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Luis on Ski Jumping Hill Tournament: Predazzo

on 2014-08-24

In the recent episode of "Luis on Ski Jumping Hill Tournament", our columnist Luis Holuch is talking about his visit of the world championships stadium of 2013 in Predazzo. Living in for a while in Munich now, Luis tells us about his short vacation which has been a very wet one. Like always we wish you a lot of fun with reading and feel free to comment!

Luis on Ski Jumping Hill Tournament

By Ski Jumping Hill Archive author and photographer Luis Holuch

On Thursday, August 14, I went directly on my way from work to Innsbruck. The first part of this way was walking from the Eurosport office – my actual and first job – to Munich East station. There, I took the suburban train to Munich central station. My train left the station on platform 15, 15 minutes too late due to a missing driver. The stations to Innsbruck are: Munich East – Rosenheim – Kufstein – Woergl and Jenbach. My family picked me up at Innsbruck with open arms. We haven’t seen each other for about two months, but for this extended weekend the time has come again.

During the one and a half our long road trip on the Brenner highway via – Schoenberg – European bridge – Brenner – Brixen – Klausen and Bozen-Centre I am telling my family a lot about experiences and happenings of my internship at Eurosport. We have been driving through the darkness with a relaxed speed, the atmosphere was pretty cool and I had a lot of stories I could tell in my mind. If somebody of you guys is interested in these, feel free to contact me via Facebook or via email (find it in “about us”). Our holiday apartment was located in Tiers am Rosengarten, just a few kilometers in North direction of Bozen.

My family (means my parents and my brother) has stayed there since the Saturday before, otherwise such a trip (from Bielefeld) would be kind of time wasting. But I was really excited for it, because we had no internet connection, almost no mobile network and pure rest. That was exactly what I needed after two weeks of doing the work for my boss who has been on holidays that time. Of course, it had to be clarified what we will do the next two days. Especially in such holidays you depend on the weather. But this fact was supposed to make it very complicated…

On the next morning we get up at 9 a.m.. The sky is very cloudy and the clouds look very scary. “Well, it would be a miracle if we make it anywhere today”, I am saying while walking under the shower. As I come back, the first drops are coming down earth. “Hiking might become a problem. What about driving to Predazzo? If I remember correctly, Luis, you wanted to visit the ski jumps”, says my dad. I look a short while out the window and as it comes to my mind that we will not go there tomorrow, I say: “I don’t want to miss that chance, so yeah we will make that!”

One hour later my dad starts the engine of our car, as the rain gets stronger. We all have rain jackets with us – but no exchange clothes. The ride via Karerpass and Nigerpass lasts about an hour. The Rotwand, a beautiful mountain formation, is surrounded by the soup of rain and fog. Nevertheless: we see a lot of parking cars and busses and a lot of hiking people. This picture is also the same in Val di Fassa, about 15 minutes away from Predazzo, where the weather is getting worse and worse. In the first tunnel after the town of Moena it looks more like a monsoon and just think “hopefully I will survive it”. In addition to that I get scared of not finding the ski jumps, because we don’t have an address.

But luckily this does not become a problem, because signs are showing the way: right next to a cabin cableway at the entrance of Predazzo. The rain has not become lesser, so we go under the roof of the stadium stand. The others would have joined me – if there was no rain. So I close my jacket as much as possible. The parking area where our car is, is on the right side of the area, so I have to walk a few steps to be inside the stadium. I am standing inside the frontal stand and make a plan how to walk through the ski jumps. Close to the large hill, on the right-hand side there is a stand formed by grass, same on the left-hand side. On this side (the left) there is the lift which is out of order. On the very right, there are the youth ski jumps.

I decide to walk up them first and then go over to the large hill. On the very right there is the old K62, which actually – from my point of view – should be the most important ski jump of this facility, because its purpose is to build the bridge between child and youth jumps to adult jumps. But, like the both old ski jumps in Planica it is a superb example for what happens if the nature grabs back what the human has taken from it. It is actually much disfigured. The slope is divided into the under part which still looks okay: you can still see where the plastic mattings have been placed. But the upper part looks like a jungle:

Bushes and trees are growing up high as well as the grass. And those bushes and trees “conquered” the inrun. The wood and the other materials there are broken and almost not recognizable. Only the small flood light installations are still in acceptable shape. Those facilities do break my heart, especially when I know they have been built extra for an event or a project. And most of you guys will know: ski jumping is not very important in Italy. A symbol for this happened on Aug 17th as Alessio de Crignis (24) retired from ski jumping.

I had a talk with him and he has been criticizing the federal system and also the structure and training options as well as the people in their functions. He retired of ski jumping due to bad results and following from that missing financial boosts. The Italian has been part of only two world cups: 2008 he became 51st in the qualification and so missed the competition. He has been 18 years old back then. His second world cup has been the ski flying team competition 2012 in Planica where Italy became 10th. His biggest achievement was a 13th place in the Continental Cup on the 4th of January 2009. In the end of our conversation, Alessio said he wishes good luck to the new head coach Paolo Bernardi (who has also been one of my interview partners yet) and that he manages to direct the Italian ski jumping into a good future.

Back to the visit: by using a medium-secured path I am making my way from this ski jumps to the matting hills and to the judges’ tower for these ski jumps. This tower has open doors, so I take the chance, walk inside and make some pics from there. The view is not so bad, but the weather makes the photos really bad, so I had to work a lot to make them looking like they are now. That is all which has been possible, I am sorry – I wish it would have been better. But at least, there is no need to worry for the child jumps. They are in a really good shape, the larger one even has a ceramic inrun slope. I am just making a few pics for then going over to the most important jumps: the world championship ski jumps.

The rain becomes stronger, my jeans is totally wet. And it doesn’t become better by starting a walk up the mountain. Unfortunately the stairs start where the ski jump is not flat, so my running shoes and feet fight against a lot of water and also dirt. I stop my walk up at the mark of 135m and am really impressed of how far my Eurosport colleague Hans-Peter Pohl jumped here in 1992. This has been his personal best – as a Nordic combined athlete. I have to interrupt my climb for a minute as I have to cross a platform for photographers or so, but then there was no more steeplechase.

The rain is really annoying me and I hardly try my best to escape from it, so I am almost running up the stairs. As I arrive at the table, I take some breath and then walk to the coaches’ tower. If you look up from the valley, it is located on the right side of the ski jump. I’ve always wanted to know what the coaches are actually seeing of their athletes’ jumps. It is not as much as one might think, maybe 50 meters. But of course, experienced coaches have the skills to see if the jump was good or not. To complete my jump-seeing, I am walking up the stairs of the inrun. On this way I am making a small selfie-video which I uploaded on Facebook.

I am shortly enjoying the (not really existing) outlook through the landscape and then walk to the normal hill. The architecture is the same, but also beautiful and these jumps are highly frequented. Besides the Italian jumpers (male and female), also the Slovenian ladies are here often as well as the Austrian ladies. Predazzo has been Universiade-jump (students’ games) in 2013 as well as JWSC-jump this year. And not to forget: the Nordic Ski World Championships in 2013. The international status is definitely a high one. To me it is not a surprise, because everything is given here: the plastic matting hills and inrun slopes are in high standard shape, the ways in the facility are short, the lift is working, there is enough space to do also different kind of exercises and you will not really get bothered.

I am not climbing up the inrun of the normal hill, because it is getting more and colder and also the view becomes worse. I just take some pics from the table and the coaches’ tower of this hill and then start my way back to the car via the small mountain street. I arrive at the middle of the slope, where the stairs down begin. I really have to pay attention while walking down – more than while walking up. But everything goes well and I take all the steps without any troubles. But being at the end of the stairs does not mean being back in the stadium, but arriving at the k-point. From there I have to walk over the stands at the left side of the HS 106.

As I arrive at the jumpers’ village next to the lift, my dad is coming to me with his umbrella. He takes me in his arm and talks good words to me when I am vibrating due to feeling cold. He is giving me his jacket and his pullover. After that we purchase long training pants which I am wearing instead of my totally wet jeans. On the way back to our holiday apartment, I have covers over my body, turned on the seat heater and warming up myself.

Luckily, I did not get a cold. I only came back with bad photos which needed to undergo a lot of work. But I also got nice memories of the ski jumping stadium in Predazzo. Later that day, the sun came out and the weather became awesome. At that time, we have been seating in a Pizzeria in Oberaicha and spend the evening with some beer and a fantastic pizza. On the next day we did a short hike at Plose, the mountain of Brixen and drove to our last stop of the trip, a small hotel in Dietramszell in the south of Munich. Meanwhile, everything turned into the old schema: my family is back in Bielefeld and I am working in the Eurosport office from Monday till Friday between 9 a.m. and 6 p.m. There is a lot of work to do, so I am sorry if I do not write my column that often anymore. But I am doing my very best to keep you posted about my trips.

All the best wishes,
Your Luis

Ski Jumps:

ITA Predazzo (Stalimen)



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