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Luis on Ski Jumping Hill Tournament: Being an eagle once in a life time!

on 2014-02-18

After a creative break, our columnist Luis Holuch is back with a very special episode of his column "Luis on Ski Jumping Hill Tournament". In course of the ladies ski jumping world cup in Hinzenbach (AUT), Luis jumped on a ski jumping hill. Read now about his experiences and enjoy it!

Luis on Ski Jumping Hill Tournament

By Ski Jumping Hill Archive author and photographer Luis Holuch

It is a Saturday, the first in February. Everyone would say “nothing special” – you got used to that. But today, it is a different situation. I had to wait 18 years and half another one for this moment. I will be a ski jumper! If longer than for two minutes, I do not know in this moment. But I am totally in my concentration phase and I cannot wait until it begins. The well-known adrenaline is in me.

For my person totally untypical, I woke up very early at 8 a.m.. After a nice breakfast and the philosophic talk about the food and its effects, I went back to the room, dressed myself sporty and then went for a morning jogging. I did not do that for quite a long time. But I wanted to do it. Half an hour with headphones on my ears and just alone for me. I did not want to talk to anyone, I was not relaxed.

In earlier days, as I played handball, I warmed up myself like that before every match and to speed up my body circulation. The body is able to perform better after this warm-up. And I got more relaxed. Some stretching is also a must-do. My body felt a bit like rubber. But that is how it has to feel like. You have to be flexible and awake in your head.

And at least, I figured out the position in the inrun. My friend Brian, in earlier days also a hobby jumper on the small hills of our country, helped me. I am good in analyzing other people, but if it’s about me, I am mostly wrong. So, I sent him pictures and he corrected me this way. Finally, I felt quite comfortable in the position. The “dry” feeling is well, only the jumps are missing! A K12-hill is waiting for me tonight. It will be the first two jumps from a ski jumping hill in my life. I pay 40€ for that. Someone of you might think “how stupid can you be?”, because this is quite expensive. But it is a good expensive price!! The whole collected money goes to a sick 23-year-old girl which lives in the region. This is actually the main reason why I signed in for this charity-competition.

2 jumps are planned. One trial jump, after which I have to name a distance I want to jump in the second jump, the competition jump. If you trusted the flyer, Toni Innauer and Ernst Vettori – two legends of ski jumping – will be the judges. They will give 1-3 points for each jumps, it is said. I ask myself how to land with a telemark in alpine ski boots, but I will try it anyway. The easiest thing I can do is to stretch my arms to the side, parallel to the ground, so I won’t at least lose any points.

In contrast to yesterday’s Friday, the program went over quite slowly. There have been many breaks due to wind conditions and most of the spectators had enough after the first round of the ladies. But the second round has been scheduled also and went over a little faster. The whole “theatre” play took more than two hours and after that we had Sara Takanashi as winner ahead of Daniela-Iraschko-Stolz and Maja Vtič on rank 3. Now, I had to drive half an hour back to our flat and another half an hour back to the arena.

As fast as I can, I packed my stuff and registered myself at the race office. This was totally psychological toxic for my schedule: the pure hectic. This has been sometimes a reason why I played bad matches in my handball career, but sometimes I was totally focused, because I was kind of awake. And this time?

As I received my bib with number 30, there were troubles, because the ladies of the race office were not able to change the money. So, I paid 50€ instead of 40€. But now the motto was “hurry up”, because the competition should start at 6 p.m.. At that time, I did not even wear my ski boots. And actually I wanted to simulate the movement process…forget it, man!

I ran from the changing room as fast as I can to the small hill, to get into the line. As I arrived at the metal stairs, I calmed myself down and took the stairs as slow as Janne Ahonen. I wore the bib and it felt really “real” – I don’t have a better word for it. I got more and more used to the feeling of how it is to be a ski jumper.

Due to the hectic and my adrenaline level, I forgot to take my gloves with me. But that is not as wrong as some might think, because you have more feeling for the air conditions if you did not wear the gloves. And it was not that cold that I got the feeling that the gloves have been necessary. About 200 spectators came to the arena plus 42 athletes, divided into teams of 3. There were teams like “Albatross”, “Volksbank”, “Municipals of neighbor villages” and even the “vegetable dealers”. But this fact only came back into my mind as host Jakob opened the competition together with DJ Andi. My thoughts were just “Jesus, who’s in my team now?! I don’t know anyone of the guys and I am the only German”.

But the first jumper took my thoughts other where. 8.5 meters were his distance. My goal was now to jump this distance as well. To jump on the K-line (10m) would be sensational for my first jump. Some more guys did not reach this line. As the first woman in this competition jumped 9m, I got very warm. Of course, you try to not think so much about such things, but I had to admit that the evolution left the thought of the man as the strong gender in me. So, I though “you have to jump that distance at least! You don’t lose against a woman, that’s awkward.” Bib 22 jumped the best distance till than with 12.5 meters, but was not able to land it.

Meanwhile, I reached top of the hill. Then, the next problem appeared: the inrun track. There was no snow, but ceramic. I worried for my skis. No wax and either no preparation for this kind of track. “And who the hell is in my team??, my brain wants to know. I started calculating in my head - “hello man, you shall jump in some seconds!” – the bib numbers 28 and 29 belong to me. The 28 was wore by a slim man, in the age of middle-40. He actually has an appropriate body for a ski jumper. And number 29 stands some stairs lower at the inrun: “well, he must be an expert”, I thought. He was laughing a lot and totally relaxed. And a real expert! Andreas Goldberger as he lives and breathes. With a high-five he said hello and smiled “we are three slim guys, so we will win for sure.” I tried to slow him down and said that this is my first time on a ski jumping hill. With his accent he answered “then it’s going to be a success story”.

I was totally fascinated by this guy and forgot everything around me. He jumped easily 13.5 meters and my other colleague 9. Now, it was my turn. “Now is the time” are the thoughts, normally. But not now. I was not really there so to say. So it happened, that I started from the same gate as Andi (2nd lowest). An ironic statement here: good idea for a starter!!

But before I noticed that, I had to start. The squat in the inrun was like I tried it before, but hard to keep. And as the table came, I throw my arms to the front and not the upper part of the body. This is the biggest mistake you can do. After not even one second, my jump was over and I directly noticed that it was bad. But actually, I was afraid to jump to the front in the ski boots. That is how you actually have to do it. I waited for the distance. “6.5 meters” were the words through the loudspeakers.

All in all, this meant: I just rode over the table, did not push myself up to the front, so not as how I wanted to. But I noticed that directly, like I sad as I finished my jump. It is a huge challenge to do that, because you are practically not able to move in the alpine skiing boots. And in addition to that, the feeling in the inrun track was quite bad due to the ceramic. That is even for an experienced skier (like me: 15 years) a very difficult task.

Also the next starter agreed with that. He rode to me, took off his skis and showed me the flanges which were damaged now. I got panicked checked my skis as well: with the same result. “Great, that’s what I’ve missed”, I said angry. But there was no time for such things. I watched the last 10 jumpers who were able to beat my distance except from maybe 3 or 4.

And while I was wondering what I can do right now and which distance I will name, Goldi (Andreas Goldberger) was full of energy. He ran back to the ski room and came back with a cut jumping ski which was long as a mono-ski. Of course, he brought his jumping boots with him, so he could use these small skis. Everyone, who was waiting for his/her start watched this spectacle, laughed and hit his/her head with the hand. And I said out loud what everyone was thinking: “sooo, you are even more flying of the edge than before?! Jesus Christ, this is so crazy!”

The second round began, the modus was aim-jumping. So, every athlete had to name a distance he/she wants to achieve and needs to jump it as precise as possible. If you did not reach the distance, you lost points even if you jumped farer than you said. The actual planned judges’ points do not influence the points. So, you could take more risk. The points f the three team members were added and the team with the most points will win.

After I watched my jump on tape – my friend Freddi recorded on his smartphone – and lay down on the ground due to heavy laughing, I decided to do my very best. The second jump should be a bomb! If I was 3rd in my team, it should not be that obvious like in round one. And therefore, I wanted to change an essential thing: the length of the inrun. This time I did not want to jump from the same gate as Goldi and my other team mate, whose name I forgot. Because of that, I stayed at the top of the hill as Goldi sat down on the gate. And he did everything to kill my concentration. As if he competed for the Olympic gold medal, he started and jumped 15.5 meters with an excellent telemark, new hill record! He beat his named distance with half a meter. This was actually superb, but for the competition itself it cost point. The second guy of our team jumped 9 meters, just as he said. Now, it was my turn again.

The beam on which the guys sat before there star was removed and the three guys (host Jakob plus two helpers) came up to me. I prepared everything, sat down on my beam and waited for the sign. But I had to wait for a while, so Jakob had the idea to do a short interview with me. “Tell me, how is it to be in a team with Goldi?”, he asked. “Well, what should I say? It’s just a cool thing, because he is a legendary guy, you just saw it. He is the best team captain you can dream of.” “And do you think you can compete with him? He just said you’ll jump 16 meters”, he asked perky. I said only laughing: “thanks for this compliment. But this is my second jump in my life. It would be incredible if I jumped that far. It is an honour for me, so I would be satisfied with 8.5 meters.” That was the sign which moved Jakob to stop the conversation. I did not make any ambitious statement, because I am a realist. The ski jump was empty now. I hit my chest two times and rode. This time, I did not get deep in the squat as deep as in the first jump to “stand up” a little better. About 5 meters before the table I was in the perfect position – for the take-off. But I did not notice that, my feeling told me that I was too slow, so I got back down a little and missed the table again. I was a little longer in the air, but the technical process was even worse in the first jump.

The distance with 7.5 meters was better – in general as well as referred to the overall ranking – but it was disappointing. All in all, it was a lot of fun, I could do it every day. But unfortunately, I have to drive about 80 kilometers to the next hills. Probably, I will not start a jumping career, only if I become member of a different country and receive some benefits. But seriously – I could imagine to do it more often. And I would like to wear jumping clothes. With a little bit of training, I could advance to an acceptable hobby-jumper and Brian is a good example in my friends’ circle. I will take the chance if it appears. And I would recommend everyone to try it as well. “This is a huge party”, the Austrians say…true words!

Yours truly
Luis Holuch

Ski Jumps:

AUT Hinzenbach (Energie AG-Skisprung Arena)



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2)   Peter Pretorius   wrote on 2014-02-20 at 00:38:

Sehr gut geschriebener unterhaltsamer Bericht. Beim Lesen wird einem nicht langweilig. Da ist durchaus Potential für eine journalistische Karriere. Gute deutschsprachige Journalisten sind ja sehr rar gesät wenn es ums Skispringen geht. Mit Alpinski kann man durchaus auf kleinen Schanzen an oder sogar über den K-Punkt springen wenn das Timing und die Sprungkraft stimmen. Je größer allerdings die Schanzen werden, desto kürzer und gefährlicher werden dann die Sprünge. Bei einer K-50 landet man dann meistens schon auf dem Vorbau.

1)   dotdot   wrote on 2014-02-18 at 22:17:

Boooring and cocky

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