One of the most exciting things we have taken part in was an invitation to accompany Derek’s colleague’s ski club on a 4- hour bus trip to the opening of the 63rd Vierschanzentournee (translation: Four Hills Tournament) which is part of the Ski Jump World Cup.
Ski Jumping is one of the most anticipated winter spectator sports in Europe. Skispringer from all over the world take part in the tournament, and many are in training for the future olympics.
The tour takes place in four villages in the Alpine regions of Germany and Austria. The opening event was in Oberstdorf, followed by Garmisch-Partenkirchen (we actually posted a photo of the ski jump arena in GaP earlier in the year!) Innsbruck, and Bischofshofen.
It was snowing when we arrived, and the views as we passed villages in the Allgäu felt like scenes out of a snowglobe. The arena was packed; Viewers start arriving on buses when the event gates open at noon and pitchers of hot Glühwein or punsch are the best bet for staying warm. The athletes had already warmed up once we arrived at 3pm, and a crowd-warming festival in the stands was well underway! One glance around and we realized that we should have dressed a whole lot warmer!
Leading up to the event is all of the entertainment and music you would hear at a lively German festival: The Zicke-Zacke chant and après-ski party songs like Amsterdam, and the universally loved song by Neil Diamond, Sweet Caroline.
It was exhilarating to watch! Wind speeds are carefully metered and need to measure within a certain low range for each jump. By late afternoon, a few more inches of snow had fallen and the wind had picked up, which meant that the competitive jumps were slow to begin. There were many times when the broadcast screens would show the skier on the edge of their seat, ready-to-go, and he would need to slide off the bench. It was a cycle of jumps and lengthy delays, until it seemed that the conditions would not abate and an announcement was made that the event would be postponed until the next day.
My feet have never felt so cold!
Skispringen is well established in Germany and live broadcasts appear frequently through the winter. The next day, we watched the remainder of the competition in Oberstdorf from our couch with a mug of hot cocoa, and my toes were happy!
Ski jumping has yet to reach the same high level of popularity in the United States. There was a single qualifier from the USA team and he was unfortunately not able to advance. This year, a broadcast deal was reached and next winter’s tournament will be televised in the USA for the first time!
Vierschanzentournee is a prestigious tournament for ski jumpers. The overall winner was a 21-year old Austrian, Stefan Kraft. Austrians are tremendously good skiers, it’s amazing to watch them perform.
Below are two videos from Oberstdorf — The first was the best jump of the night! You can see how revved up the crowd was.
This jump is a German skier, and he’s easier to spot in the video—
We had a great time at this event! Despite our frozen feet, it will certainly be a highlight from our time in Germany!
One of the après-ski party songs that is popular in Germany and Austria via You Tube
Here are the lyrics in english
How Ski Jumping is Scored Wikipedia