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Luis on Ski Jumping Hill Tournament: SGP Hinterzarten - Tradition(s) and novelty

on 2018-08-01

With now 36 editions the summer-grand-prix in Hinterzarten is one of the most traditional summer ski jumping competitions. This time, our columnist Luis Holuch visited the event in the Black Forest and brings you stories about traditions but also very new things. Enjoy the first of two episodes of "Luis on Ski Jumping Hill Tournament at the summer-grand-prix in Hinterzarten"!

Luis on Ski Jumping Hill Tournament

By Ski Jumping Hill Archive author and photographer Luis Holuch

Finally watching ski jumping live again! That was the thought which made my heart jump. And in that case it was pure joy and not the continuous heatwave Germany is still seeing these days. I organized and booked this trip already in April, so to say as a self-made birthday present. It was about time, three years after my last visit in Hinterzarten. And so I went into the car on Thursday and made my way to the Black Forest. I was thinking about having a mix between distance to my daily business, in combination with research including interviews, a bit of promotion for my book about ladies’ ski jumping, networking and of course a lot of fun and a bit of free time.

A lucky hit and a great quick shot

What I did not expect was a massive traffic jam which occurred when I almost arrived in Hinterzarten – in Freiburg. But, as I got to know in the next days, I was not the only one amongst friends, colleagues and teams who had to deal with that kind of issue. I arrived in Hinterzarten at half past six. I booked a very cheap, but also nicely located, holiday flat via the website of the tourism office. My Norwegian company, which I picked up at the airport Frankfurt, and me were very curious about how this place actually would look like. And it was a pure lucky hit. The flat had everything you could wish for and even more: a balcony, which also offered a bit of shadow – awesome!

After running some errands and a pizza in the legendary restaurant of Franco Russo, who has more photos on his walls than some ski jumpers try out different ski jumping hills in their life, we went to bed. The first of these five days was not that spectacular, but still exhausting since the thermostat showed 38 degrees Celsius most of the time. The next morning, until it was finally the time to make the way to the Adler-Skistadion felt quite long, but the excitement grew with every minute. On the way there, which is about one kilometer long, I picked up my press accreditation and went straightly to the press center at the main building in the stadium. I arrived there shortly after 1 p.m. and still had plenty of time until my first appointment.

I met Lars-Henrik Wacker, a colleague, who is producing a ski jumping radio web show from time to time since a couple of months. He had prepared a Hinterzarten special this time and I already took part of his show a short time ago after he got to know I wrote a book about ladies’ ski jumping. This time, he asked me for an interview to talk about the current developments in the discipline. The occasion with Hinterzarten inviting the ladies for the first time since 2013 was a good one and so I followed his invitation. The interview went very quickly and good within the first try of recording it and so now you guys can also listen to it on YouTube (see at "Links" down below), in case you understand German. And if not, feel free to ask me about it.

Slovene-Ski, Carbon shoe and a refused debut

I also had kind of my own motto party, as you guys probably noticed from the headline. There have been a few new names on the start lists of both genders. Athletes, who made their first summer grand prix attendance ever as well as athletes, I saw live at the hill for the very first time. And, as usual, athletes with brand new equipment. I did not trust my own eyes when I saw Simon Ammann (yes, THAT Simon Ammann) taking his first training jump with new Slatnar- instead of Fischer-skis and also a new shoe. After a quick research afterwards, I found out he explained this move a couple of days ago on a media day like this: "The successful tests with the new ski and this carbon shoe gave me the motivation to continue my career." The Swiss man was, is and will always be a never-tired and always-hungry tinker.

My long-year experience of being at ski jumping events has taught me one thing very often: The differences in getting opportunities to get a bit deeper into the material with your interview partners on training- and qualification-day or on competition-day are immense. This is why I tend to try to make all the interviews already on the first day, if possible. And, spoiler alert: this time it worked out. Against my usual approach, I focused on the Germans, at least while the ladies were in the spotlight. The first version of the start list showed three newbies, but after a last check by the FIS, Jenny Nowak’s name has been removed from the start list after all, since she does not have scored any points in Continental Cup yet.

A lady coming from the flat land and Miss Freitag: The German debutants

As the chance occurred, I spoke to the youngest German athlete and debutant, Josephin Laue. For her it was not only the first appearance at the summer grand prix, which made this weekend so special, but also the fact that her biggest idol Andreas Wank was also competing. "We already spoke at the top and he really thinks it is great I came this far. I already cheered for him when I was a small girl and it is simply incredible to jump together with him right here", she told me and smiled. The second special aspect of the career path of the 16-year-old is "that I originally come from the flat land and had no larger hills to train on until I moved to Klingenthal."

She has been stopped from time to time by smaller injuries in the last season, "but after I was jumping good at the FIS-Cup in Villach and also last week at our national championships, head coach Andreas Bauer decided that I get the chance to jump here". The plan for the current season seems to be simple on the surface: "we will see how this year is going. In case Daniel Vogler (coach of her training group, annotation by the editor) says I should move to Oberstdorf, we will surely discuss that." Until this step possibly is going to come, the only athlete of the ski federation of Saxony-Anhalt which is a squad member of the German Ski Federation will stay at Klingenthal.

One athlete, who already took this step, is the second debutant of the German Ski Federation, Selina Freitag. She was 16 years of age when she moved to Oberstdorf in summer 2016. But that was not the only change in her life, as she told me: "I do not get to see my family that often anymore and also my circle of friends looks a bit different than before. Also my style and level of jumping changed a lot and I competed outside of Germany, for example at the FIS-Cup in Falun, Sweden, in March." Although she claims she does not really like being compared to her brother Richard, she admitted "that this weekend, the first we are competing kind of together, in our home country Germany, is something special."

The summer grand prix in Hinterzarten was also a special event for Selina’s and Richard’s mother Diana. "Since they are both living in Oberstdorf now, we do not get to see our children very often. For us, it is a good and easy thing that both are competing here, so that we do not have much to think of while organizing these trips", she told me. She admitted it was not easy for her to watch her daughter leaving the home, but "I always supported that, since she saw a big chance for her and she did not want to miss out." She notices it is still not an easy thing for female ski jumpers to do their sport and make a living out of it, "but this is no reason to give up. We have to continue fighting for the girls and support them by doing promotion."

Of course, she meant promotion of the sport, but this talk was a chance for me to present her my book. "Making promotion for this book will also be my pleasure. I think it is a great thing if some acknowledges the efforts and performances of the ladies are worth to be covered in the same way as the men’s, especially with a book", Diana Freitag said. So, I gave her two books and she said "thank you very much". Selina missed the second round on Saturday on 31st place by just 0.3 points, which caused bittersweet feelings in her and her mother. But, since a vacation in France followed just one day later, they both did not feel too bad for a longer time. "And now we even got a book to read", Diana Freitag laughed.

The athletes interview were done for me at that time, but of course, there were still a lot of interesting things going on afterwards. Also next to the hill, where Sara Takanashi once again proved her dominance in the summer on Saturday and took the victory ahead of Yuki Ito and local hero Ramona Straub. Straub explained on the press conference after the competition that she only had 20 jumps in the summer until then and thought she was not in 100 percent shape since she "changed things in literally every part of my jump." This was another big surprise for all listeners, even for Martin Schmitt. But actually, stories like this one just make everyone involved looking more forward to the next competitions and their own stories of this summer. All the other stories from Hinterzarten will come very soon in the follow-up episode of this one.

Have a good time!

Luis

Ski Jumps:

GER Hinterzarten (Adler-Skistadion)

Links:

Website des Sommerskispringens Hinterzarten
Gallery of the ladies competition on berkutschi.com
Die Entwicklung des Damen-Skispringens: Luis Holuch im Interview bei LHW
Das Buch von Luis Holuch im Online-Shop des Engelsdorfer Verlags


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