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Luis on Ski Jumping Hill Tournament: at the World Cup Final 2016 in Planica, Part III

on 2016-07-01

As promised, now is the time for another release: the third and final episode of our columnist Luis Holuch's recap of the season final in Planica. This XXL article is about friendships, meetings and a Sunday evening, which turns out completely different than expected. Now, the winter season has ended also for us - right at the beginning of the new summer season. Nevertheless, we hope you will enjoy reading this article!

Luis on Ski Jumping Hill Tournament

By Ski Jumping Hill Archive author and photographer Luis Holuch

The transport back to Kranjska Gora on this Saturday did not include any complications, it was almost perfect. So, we arrived at 12.30 in the village. We made a short way to the supermarket for buying some food and then went in our aparment for some rest. We played some cards and had an extended lunch. From time to time you could hear the harmonica outside. A couple of small kids were luging on the very soft ski slopes as the ski lifts were already turned off. The sun was not burning as hard here as in Planica, but the temperature outside still was very likeable. The pleasant anticipation for this Saturday night was high, mainly because you would meet the most “famous“ persons. Brian and I still had very vivid memories to last year and told Marc about it. As some of you surely know, there is this (for me) old-fashioned speech of “what happens in Vegas, stays in Vegas“. Maybe I think it is old-fashioned, because I have never been to Vegas and do not have an idea what is going on there. Nevertheless, this speech is valid for Planica/Kranjska Gora only in exception cases. We all know there are humans, and also ski jumpers of course, which cross borders at partying. But this is not unusual, abnormal and also not reprehensible. You are just letting go a bit, that is Planica. And the jumper’s party at the hill must be very nice, as I heard. The teams and staff are chilling together, drinking some beer and cooking their country-specific dishes. And also we are in a very chilled and good mood. We were sitting together, scrolling through our videos and photos, listening to some loud and good music and drinking the (for reasons) famous Rothaus Tannenzäpfle.

I also tried to arrange a meeting with a Slovenian friend for Sunday afternoon, after the final competition. But sometimes creativity can complicate easy ideas – just like in this case. Creativity was also necessary in the evening. We four boys (Brian, Marc, Mario and I) wanted to meet in the “Bor“ for dinner. But unfortunately, the restaurant was very crowded. But, because the others were running late and seemed also a little tipsy, I put myself on the waiting list. I was the second on this list behind a group of six people, including Lasse Ottesen (former ski jumper and now Race Director of Nordic Combined). Having such people in front of me, makes it easier for me to wait. Although or maybe also because my friends were so slow.

A family was about to leave the table directly in front of the pizza baker and I was guided to this table. Out of a little frustration, I ordered a glass of red wine at the very kind server. I just closed the menu card as my friends came into the restaurant. With a high-five they thanked me for me patience and my care and also said sorry for this long time of waiting. “Sorry, but they took my phone away and texted that bullshit to you”, Brian apologized. And Mario, who usually does every kind of joke, admitted. “Well, don’t worry, it’s okay. But, next time, I will not wait alone here”, I answered. “Score for you, next time someone of you will do that job”, Marc said. The three ordered a beer and we had a cheer. “Alright boys, let’s face it: who will also order the extraordinary pizza we saw for the first time yesterday?”, I asked. Four fingers raised up high and so it was clear: we will try the kebab pizza. The server congratulated us for this decision.

“We did not only order the best pizza at the best server – we even have the best spots for watching the guys making our pizza”, Marc said – very modest. But it was simply true: Brian and Mario did not even have to turn around to see what was going on in front of the oven. Originally, our pizza was standard: dough with cheese and tomato sauce on it. After around six minutes in the oven, the baker pulled them out, put kebab on them and they stayed another two minutes in the oven. Then, the pizzas were put on the plates, the house-own herbage-garlic sauce sauce on it and that was the kebab pizza. The server handed the plates to us and we were flashed by the view we have had. “Seriously: every Italian pizza baker, let’s call him Don Antonio, would hit everyone who presents a pizza like this to him. BUT: how awesome is this pizza?!”, I laughed. “I really don’t care, even more if the pizza tastes as it looks”, Mario said. “Good appetite!”, we said to each other and started eating.

This pizza was very delicious and we really enjoyed eating it. And it was a big one in addition, so Brian, Mario and me did not manage to eat it completely. But, luckily, Marc was our personal “eating all the rest” machine and so he ate all the pieces which left. Before we wanted to get the party started, we went on our apartment one last time for some refreshing. We did not feel ready yet and used this opportunity. Just when we were about to leave, Brian was called by the other people of our crew. Because I was still waiting for a reply of my friend Anže, I told the three boys to leave and we would meet later in the Vopa. This was also not a problem due to the fact I always held the key. Shortly after the boys left, I got a reply from Anže, who told me we could meet this or next evening for a drink. I thought »whatever, you will surely meet someone you know in the Vopa« and made my way. It was already very crowded in there and due to that, almost impossible to find someone I know. So, I left after the first beer and went to my Polish friends‘ apartment. The guys were as surprised as excited about my spontaneous visit. Artur has put an old video cassette into the recorder and some old jumps were shown on the TV screen. Paweł was still working at that daytime (10.15/10.30 p.m.), Mikołaj was struggling with his smartphone as Michał brought some beverages for each of us. Maciej was in the bedroom and also did a refreshment.

We were sitting around the table and talking as Artur started the legendary video game “Deluxe Ski Jumping 4“ and asked who would join him at playing. It promised to become funny and so I joined the gaming crew. And now it came to a battle of the giants – well, almost. Artur, the pro gamer, chose the former Dutch jumper Boy van Baarle as his avatar. Michał wanted to be a (not existing) Romanian jumper as my jumper became a Korean jumper, called Lun Hol Us. And Paweł, who joined as last, played a Spanish jumper. We played a fictitious world cup season and, as always during that kind of gaming, the excitemet and noise level was rising from minute to minute. It has too, when at least one Polish guy and the German in the group fell in the commentator mode. Not the minority of the spoken words were the Polish term for „new hill record“ »nowy rekord skocznie« or a simple »oooh« when the Dutch, the Romanian, the Spanish or Korean jumper had to stop is jump due to balance problems or just crashed. In the end, the result was a clear thing: Artur was the winner in front of Michał, Paweł and me. Just, when I became second in one competition, Maciej came downstairs and watched us. “Who’s also going to the Vopa?“, he asked. “Me, of course!“, I answered immediately and also Paweł wanted to go out. Mikołaj said he would come later, as Michał and Artur were not really in party mood. Paweł met a friend on the way to the Vopa, so Maciej and I walked in there first.

We did not have to wait a long time in the chain outside and went into the nightlife. First, we ordered our drinks, because this is almost impossible once you went away from the bar. The atmosphere was very good and you could saw many known faces. At 1.20, as the DJ played the playlist parts I mentioned in the first part of this year’s Planica recap (first Slavko Avsenik’s “Trompetenecho“ and then “Animals by Martin Garrix), Maciej was not able to enjoy the party anymore. He disappointed shook his head and stood next to a column. The crowd went completely crazy and I was thinking for a moment what to do. But I told myself »this is the final night here, so keep going on!« I met two girls of our travel group and also the three men from the Black Forest we met on Thurdsay evening and we celebrated our meet-again. I stayed in the club until 2.30, then met Brian and Marc in front of the supermarket and we went back to our apartment. They both felt a little cold and Marc directly went to bed. I convinced Brian to have one last drink for this night and we had our personal recap of the weekend and also talked about the world of females. For me, these kind of friendships, in which you do not get to see each other often a year, are very special. You have a different type of talk and sometimes even talk about things, which are secrets to (geographic) closer friends. Mainly because you met each other through the same interest or same passion and possibly also made similar experiences. Around 4 a.m., we decided to have a bit of sleep.

The atmosphere in the next morning at the hill was typical for Planica. Everyone know it would be the final competition of the season and exactly enjoyed this. No matter if I talk about the unreal flight of Simon Ammann or the 245 meters by Johann André Forfang: you always notice everything with a laughing and a crying eye: it has been a real pleasure to be part of this, but now it was time to say goodbye and the long break was coming up next. This season final was way more melancholic form e, simply because this was my only event I travelled to and due to several reasons, this winter was not as much fun as usual. Also the time of farewells came up, because some (new) friends made their way home directly after the competition, e.g. Basia and Michał. It was not a problem to get into a bus, but even more the fighting against the wistfulness when you leave the Planica valley one last time. We were a little tired and had a earworm of the Slovenian national anthem »Zdravljica«, which was a little annoying, I have to say.

The need for siesta and a snack was quite big. “It totally feels similar to last year’s Sunday“, Brian and I noticed. The village got more empty with every minute, which just was an example for what we meant. I only wanted to have some sleep, but still had two appointments for this day: with Anže and Sara, who I would meet for the very first time after almost one year of friendship via Facebook. But, because, her bus came later than expected, I had to wait 45 minutes at Hotel Kompas for her, where also the departure movement took place. The teams of the USA and Canada put their bags into the van and drove to Ljubljana airport and also Race Director Walter Hofer put his baggage into his Audi and drove away. Shortly after he left, a big bus arrived and my positively thinking me said “she should be in there“. But it was wrong, no sign of Sara. But, three minutes later, she walked up to me and firstly apologized for being late. That was not a problem for me, cause it is hard to be somehow punctual in this Planica circus.

She said she would have time for about an hour and was not into walking a lot anymore after this long day, so we went to Vopa. On the way there, we spoke about a private running gag. As we were talking about Planica 2015 on Facebook, we noticed we might have had dinner at the same time in Bor on Saturday. But even face-to-face, we could not solve this enigma – thanks to the blurry memories. The bar was almost empty, so we could have a relaxed conversation. Also the terrace was empty – compared to other moments. We talked about the season, Planica as a phenomenon and also about the European refugee crisis. Sara is a curious and interested person – especailly when Germany part of the discussion. But we decided to keep that as our secret – at least for this weekend of pure Peter Prevc mania.

I was just about to tell her why it was a good idea to meet after the competition, as a Slovenian guy stopped outside the door with a trumpet in his hands. He was completely excited and started playing another well-known melody, called »Planiške fanfare«, which is actually incomparible due to the melody and it’s shortness. But he struggled to hit all the right tones, so I had to laugh out loud as Sara just said “go and practise a little more, dude.“ Slowly as never before, I was nipping on my RedBull can and did not even drink two thirds o fit as Sara got a call from her friends. They obviously were ready for leaving and still had to drive another two and a half hours. I tried to drink faster, so she would not have to wait too long. I brought here to the parking area and we said “goodye and see you next year.“ On the next day she said I have been talking a lot. I answered, half-serious and half-joking: “you could be happy about the fact we met on Sunday afternoon, because usually I am talking way more.“ She might notice this next year…

I shortly checked my messages to see if Anže texted me. He wrote he was still in Planica. So I went back to the apartment to get some rest. Even though I was very convinced that the Vopa would be closing earlier, just as last year, I decided to go there once more in the evening. I quickly checked the live ticker for looking how my home football team played, before I took a nap from which my phone woke me up. »Oh, that must be Anže«, I thought and pressed the home button. But I was surprised as I read what was on screen: “Nina Lussi: I might be over there later!“ A couple of hours before, I asked her whether I could invite her for a drink for thanking her for her participating in my bachelor thesis survey. So, this meant I would have one additional appointment this day. It was somehow strange to still have that much on my personal schedule while everything is going back to normality on this day. I told the boys about it and Brian just said “let’s have a beer on that!“ That was quite a good idea, because all the bottles in the big box were supposed to be empty on the way home. “Kimi, Yuki and Mario will join us for dinner“, Brian said. “How nice! So, I will not be the only one to order a children’s plate“, I laughed.

And that is how it came: except Marc and Mario, we were all eating a small schnitzel with French fries. “What are your plans for the evening?“, I asked. “Uff…nothing big, actually“, the girls said. “Maybe a farewell drink, but on the apartment“, Mario added. “Vopa is going to be very calm today“, Brian said. “Well, then let‘s have the drink immediately after dinner, cause I am kind of appointed, twice….let‘s say I am appointed“, I had to laugh. And we exactly did it this way before I left the apartment after half an hour of talking among friends. I only could order a glass of red wine, before Nina walked into the Vopa. She had her teammate Nita Englund with her. I had to swallow a bit, because I was not really prepared and also impressed by her appearance.

Kindly, we said “hi“ to each other and she introduced me to Nita – who was not an unfamiliar face to me, of course. “Very cool to meet you! Can I get you a drink? “, I asked them. “Oh, that is very kind of you. Yes, sure!“, Nina answered. There was a little hush then and I had to laugh. “You girls have to tell me what you would like to drink, I cannot read your minds.“ And now also the girls had to laugh, the weekend obviously left some marks. They both decided for red wine and I just commented “good choice“. For me, this kind of meetings are very interesting, because all involved persons are not really sure how to act. So, a small moment of hush or insecure laughing is totally normal and human. I took the both glasses of red wine, paid and brought the girls to my spot. We clinked glasses and started our conversation. Of course, it was basically about the weekend and ski flying, which both really would like to try, as they said.

But, I am generally interested in the training work of ski jumping ladies‘ and also asked about this aspect – the ski jumper life of the American girls is special itself, because they spent most of the time of the year in Slovenia for living and training. Of course, they try to learn from their male colleagues and the favorite jumpers are idols as Simon Ammann and Noriaki Kasai. Nita and Nina wanted to know also some things about me and as Nita asked, how Nina and I know each other, we also talked about my bachelor thesis. I made a short plot about it and said Nina was so kind to answer my questions. Nina, on the other hand, wanted to know whether her statements were helpful and how far my progress was. Both were somewhat shocked as I said the thesis would have around 200 written pages. Both laughed and nodded respectfully. “But, do you know what? I am happy I do not really have to think or talk about it when I am here”, I finally smiled. They both understood and switched to where I am coming from and how I got here. So, I told about my home and my origins and, of course, the cliché about the fast driving Germans appeared. It became a little tricky as Nina asked me what I was doing last night. She surely noticed the time I wrote my message to her. “Guess what? I have been partying”, I smiled. It would not have made any sense to tell anything but the truth. “Haha so you also had a sunglasses day today”, she had to laugh. “Of course, but without cold or sunburn”, I answered. “You lucky boy, I got completely sunburned”, she said a little sad. “Like every year, right?”, I accidentally asked. “Yeah…somehow, yes”, she slowly said and then laughed out loud. Luckily, not every word is taken that seriously here.

A few minutes later, Andreas Stjernen first and then Johann André Forfang came into the bar. “Oh look, high visit – on a Sunday night”, I said surprised. But these two did not came alone, the whole team and staff entered the bar. They all took different spots in there and had a drink on their victory in the Nations’ Cup. Of course, Nina also wanted to have a talk with them, so she said “see you later”. Nita also found a new talk partner with service man Thomas Hörl. Johann André Forfang’s goal was the stool next to me, where he sat down with a Gin Tonic in his hand. I replaced my jacket, so he would have more freedom with his legs and started talking to him. During the last two seasons, he became one of my favorite jumpers. Basically, because he makes ski jumping and flying look so easy and I highly admire these skills. Finally, I had the chance to tell him that in person. He thanked for these compliments and as I mentioned that Toni Innauer spoke a lot of positive words about him in his function as expert for German television, he had to smile. “That’s a big honor if a legend like him says things like this”, he said.

Because we somehow involved Germany in our discussion, I asked him why my countrymen were struggling with the Letalnica. “Hard to say, from time to time they have very good flights”, Johann said. “Probably, they are still jumping top much, they need to switch on this flight mode and jump with a little more feeling”, was his theory. “Yeah, that might be true. The inrun should not be the problem, it is very similar to the one on the large hill here”, I said. “Yes, you are right. But if you want to know it exactly, you might ask the boys personally”, Johann said. “But generally: what do you think about your program in the winter? Is it too much stress or would you be able to jump even more?”, I wanted to know. “I think it is manageable. I could jump three more weeks in my current shape, which is basically deciding for that question”, he said. “So, you would not say there are too many ski flying competitions?”, I asked, because this has been discussed throughout the season. “Not at all. I would also like to have six weekends of ski flying a season; it would just make our sport more interesting. And in the end, every athlete has to decide for himself if he competes at every world cup.” My impression was just: this young man is simply smart, likeable, honest and modest. He wanted to chat with a friend, so he said “goodbye” later. On this turbulent evening, I forgot I wanted to make a photo with him. So, I put that on my agenda for next year.

After the talks, I was a little thirsty and got myself a beer as I suddenly noticed a hand on my shoulder. “Hey Luis, what’s up?”, it was Maciej with his friends. “Hi guys, nice to meet you one last time. How about a goodbye drink? Look what is going on here, the Norwegians are here”, I smiled. The others also ordered drinks and we clinked glasses, before everyone was looking for someone to talk too. I had a high-five with Alexander Stöckl, it was not our first meeting. “Congratulations and thanks for the change! It would have been a little boring if they only played the Slovenian anthem today”, I made a joke. “Thank you! That was what we worked for the whole year”, he smiled. Our talk also lasted for a while and the main topics were the season, ski flying and the challenges for the jumpers. It was very relaxed and again funny from time to time. “You surely also would have been a good jumper, at least you are very slim”, Alex said. “Yeah, that’s what I also think from time to time. But I missed two things: training and body flexibility. Unfortunately, I grew up in a very flat land, the next ski jump is about 90 minutes from my home”, I said. “But maybe you will become a very good journalist, at least you are asking good and interesting questions”, he said. “Thank you, I really hope so. A dream would come true if I travelled around with your circus and reported about it.” Then, a staff member wanted to know something from him, as someone knocked on my shoulder. This man was a Norwegian and wanted to order drinks at the bar. He asked me where I am from, because I was talking to Alex in German. “Fra Tyskland”, I managed to say with my very limited Norwegian vocabulary. He laughed and asked me if I would like to join the group having a small glass. He wanted to buy a drink for each of his friends and I belong to them now. »Now this evening is way better than I though before, so never say never«, I thought and answered with a “yes“. I downed the glass to notice that it was whiskey and not rum. “Oh Luis, you have to enjoy and drink it slowly”, Alex laughed. “Thanks for the advice, that’s what I just noticed”, I said and also had to laugh.

“Hey, can I interrupt you for a moment?”, a lady asked me in German. I turned around and said “sure, how can I help you?”. “I saw you were talking to the girls and to Alex Stöckl. You obviously know a lot of people”, the lady said. “Well, a lot is always relative, but I would say I am familiar with the ski jumping business”, I said. “Who actually were the two girls? Are they also connected to ski jumping?”, she asked. “Oh yes, they are. It was Nita Englund and Nina Lussi, ski jumpers from the USA”, I answered. “Really?! I really did not recognize them in real life. Although we from Bischofsgrün welcomed many of the world’s best ski jumping ladies”, she said. ”Ah! You’re from Bischofsgrün? So, you are the people who organize the ladies’ competitions there?”, I asked surprised. “Yes, so to say. We are big fans of the Japanese ladies’ and especially Sara Takanashi”, she said. “And you also wanted to visit Planica or why are you here?”, I wanted to know. “Yes, sure. You have to do that as a ski jumping fan. But we have been here before, it’s just great here”, she said. “Ah so you feel exactly the same as I do”, I smiled. I did not manage to ask her for her name for a while, although I was very sure I knew her face somehow. But as she asked me for my name, for some photos and information – one fit to the other – and we both said simultaneously “aahh yeah, I know you from Facebook.” Well, what else to say? Also these kind of situations are typical for Planica.

I was about to look for Nina for making a photo together as a smiling face walked up to me and one second later my friend Anže hugged me. He was clearly happy we finally met. “You don’t need fans if you have friends like you“, he said and put his arm around my shoulder. “I really did not expect you would be still in such a good mood after this weekend with a gig, less sleep and some alcohol”, I laughed and he just said “You know, it's Planica”. He was so right. “I really loved to watch your gig, but everything is so much different this year. How was it?”, I asked. He just smiled and took his smartphone. “5,000 people, who all only listened to me singing and playing. That was probably my biggest audience ever”, he said and added he was playing almost only Slovenian songs, which probably would not fitted my taste completely. And exactly this point was turned around in his next statement: “But you know what? You are probably the biggest Slovenia-Fan from Germany and one day, you will marry a Slovenian girl”, he said and disappeared to go outside and pick up a lady. “May I introduce you to my future braid? This is Mojca”, Anže said. Oooh yea, Mike told me you guys are engaged now. All the best to you!”, I said and gave Mojca my hand. “And you are the guy whose jacket I ruined two years ago”, she said. “Oh, that was you? Funny, how small the world actually is”, I had to laugh out loud. “Yes, that was me. Sorry again, it won’t happen again”, she said. “Don’t worry, my jacket is at a save place”, I answered and we forgot about that incident.

There is one thing, that belongs to that kind of nights and should not be missed: singing. And Anže, more known as Anzhe, had to defend his reputation as a singer and so he started to sing in a very small moment of silence and hit my shoulder, so I could not misunderstand him. “Planica Planica snežena kraljica! Le kdo je ne pozna lepoto iz snega?“, and now everyone else understood which anthem was sung and everyone, who was familiar to the lyrics started to sing with us. “Skakalci kot ptice letijo pod nebo in slavo Planice v širni svet neso - Pozdrav neustrašnim junakom daljav, prijateljev strmih snežnih planjav! Slava, čast velja vsem skakalcem tega sveta! Junaki Planice letijo kot ptice, spet slava gre v svet za dolgo vrsto let! Planica, Planica, še pridemo nazaj, v Planico, Planico, pod Ponce v zimski raj!“, clanged through the Vopa and after that, a loud applause came on. Mojca shook her head and asked “how do you know the lyrics so well? And how do you sing it without any accent?”. I smiled and said “well, this song is on my playlist every day. Moreover, I have a neutral language, so I can also speak your accents without any complications. It’s simple to me. I also listen to Anzhe’s songs every day. I love them all. No matter if it’s “V nebo”, “Dobro veš“ or “Poganja me poet”, my absolute favorite. Although I only understand just a bit of them”, I added. “Did you hear that? He is a bigger fan of you than we ever thought”, Mojca said to Anže, who just smiled peacefully. It was clearly noticeable he had a long weekend and would like to have a nap. So, the two said “goodbye” a little later and I also thought of going to bad, no matter how nice this evening was. “What time is it?”, I asked myself and looked on my phone. Quarter to elven – “well, that’s still okay. I haven’t forget about time”, I said.

I just wanted to answer Brian’s latest messages, as someone started talking to me again. I moved my eyes up and saw two girls in front of me. One was talking to me in Slovenian and I thought what I was going to do. But, I was so polite to let her finish talking and then asked: “sorry, I don’t speak Slovenian, unfortunately. Do you maybe speak English?” “Oh yes, of course. So, you are not a Slovene? But you look like a Slovene”, she said. “As much as I sometimes would like to be a Slovene, I am none. I am a German”, I answered. “Ah okay, but you are a ski jumper, right?”, she asked. I had to smile big. People ask me a lot of interesting or funny questions, but that was a new dimension. I shortly thought and then decided to ask her: “why do you think so?” “Because you have such skinny legs”, she said. »It's getting better with every minute«, I thought. And I chose a comfortable jeans, which doesn't really show the real size of my legs. “Well yeah, I do. But, I am not a ski jumper. When the nature gifted me with these legs, it forgot to build a ski jump near my home”, I answered truly. She seemed to be a little skeptical. “I don’t really believe you. But, let’s continue that talk later, I have to go somewhere else”, she said and disappeared with her friend. I shook my head laughing “what a crazy night”.

And the next lucky moment caused Nina ran into me and so we could make our pic, together with Nita. Alex Stöckl is a talented photographer and helped us out and, after a short check, the result was proven as good enough. Nina said she wanted to get some fresh air outside. In the meantime, my Polish friends came back for getting new drinks and Maciej asked me “would you also like to meet our neighbor?”. “Sure, I won’t deny that offer”, I said and walked with the boys. Paweł was talking to a blonde woman in Polish; the neighbor was next to her. World Champion in 2009 and patron of the biggest ski jump in Einsideln – Andreas Küttel. “This is his Polish wife”, Maciej explained to me. “Oh very interesting. So much new stuff going on this night”, I laughed. I gave Andreas my hand and said “and now you have someone to talk in German too.” “You mean, to try to speak clear German”, he smiled. “Or this way, yeah”, I nodded. In the group, we switched back to English, which made it easier for all of us.

After a couple of minutes, I felt again a hand on my shoulder. It was Brian, who gave the key to me. “Good evening, Sir”, he said. “Oops, now I remember what I wanted to do”, I had to smile. “No problem. If you’re not bringing us something to drink, we get ourselves something”, he said. Mario was joining him and went to the bar. “How is it going? Incredible how many people still are here”, Brian asked. “Yeah, absolutely. I did not expect that”, I answered. “Did you meet Nina already?”, he asked curiously. “Yeah, she came here together with Nita. We had a glass together, been talking and also made a photo together. But I have no idea where she is right now”, I answered. “Still something to remember, cheers”, he said and we three clinked our glasses. “Come on, let’s talk to Evensen and Romøren”, Brian said to Mario and they went their way. I also made my way on the podium, to my Polish friends.

I met Przemek there, the last of the boys I did not know by name. So, the Polish-German family was completed and we also sang the Planica anthem together. And, suddenly, the Slovenian girl walked up to me again and asked “are you sure, you are not a Slovene?”. I laughed: “for hundred percent!” “But, why are you able to sing that song that well?”, “because I am listening to it every day and the lyrics are not difficult to learn”, I answered. She still seemed to be confused. She shook her head while she said “goodbye” and left the bar. Very funny thing. We kept on talking in our group, but it became clearer and clearer the great time here is going to end soon. Of course, we made a group pic together and then it was time to say goodbye. There was not much left of the Norwegian delegation, only Alex Stöckl and Thomas Hörl were still there. I said goodbye to both of them and Nita Englund, and then came back to my Polish friends. You could see shake-hands, hugs and hear a “see you latest the next year here.” Mario and Brian were also ready to leave, so we left the Vopa one last time for this year.

It was half past one, the latest time ever I left the Vopa on a Sunday. The barkeepers stopped selling drinks at midnight. Last year, the doors have been closed already after 23h, after the match between Real Madrid and FC Barcelona. It was more or less a meeting of the lonely hearts back then, so to say. Everything was a little different this year and this Sunday was the best day after all – at least related to excitement. I get goosebumps while writing this recap and get melancholic, when I remember what happened during this weekend. Last, but not least, I miss this kind of hustle and bustle and especially places like Kranjska Gora or Hinterzarten a lot. That is why try to enjoy the time I spend there as much as possible. Mainly, because these connections and memories are so special and put these places in my heart. And I hope, some more will be added in the future.

Ski Jumps:

SLO Planica (Letalnica)



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