They are just jumping again, the „Geigers“ and „Eisenbichlers“ are competing with the currently best ski-jumpers in the world like R. Kobayashi (JAP), Stefan Kraft (AUT) or D. Kubacki (POL) during the annual „four-skijumps- tour” (Vier-Schanzen-Tournee). Our former ski-jumping stars J. Weissflog, S. Hannawald and M. Schmidt are now working as TV commentators and report live from these events.
In Garmisch – besides the two smaller jumps – especially the large Olympic ski jump built in 2007 attracts everyone’s attention. The 650-ton steel structure with a tower height of over 60 meters and a run-in length of over 103 meters presents itself majestically elegant above the Olympic Stadium (cost: 14 million euros).
Already in 1936, sports history was written at this site on the occasion of the fourth Winter Olympics (28 participating countries and 646 athletes). The competitions at the foot of the Gudiberg were a real spectacle with audience records. Ski jumping alone, at this time had a total of 130,000 spectators (current audience capacity in Garmisch is 21,000). Today’s buildings including the restaurant and the monumental stone figures at the entrance to the ski stadium (similar to the Olympic Stadium in Berlin) are still the originals and allow an authentic journey back in time from today to then.
In addition to the guided tours, the free walking route through the stadium is also recommended. The approximately one-hour tour is rounded off with several information boards and a fantastic view down to the town. There is also a small permanent exhibition called “IV. Olympic Winter Games Garmisch-Partenkirchen 1936 located in the East wing oft he stadium – titled the backside of the medal”.
Well, if you always wanted to go “high up” and see how it feels to be up there? The Tourist-Info in Garmisch-Partenkirchen offers guided tours across the new ski jump for several years now; as well as in summer (May to October every Wednesday at 6:00 p.m.) as in winter (Saturday 3:00 p.m.). The fantastic view from the ski jump tower, which is otherwise only reserved for athletes, is included. The cost of a group tour is EUR 12.- per adult person. The meeting point is the east entrance to the Olympia Stadium and the tour takes about two hours.
You will learn everything you need to know about the history of the jump (s) and ski jumping in general including many insider stories. Anyway, a basic distinction is made between so-called normal jumps, large jumps and flyer jumps.
Two years ago I had the pleasure to visit the big jump and I had a lot of fun exploring the places and rooms where usually only the athletes are allowed to be. For example, the judges’ wing on the side, the trainer platform where the “proteges” are waved off with the flag and the elevator and warm cabin at the top of the tower, where the jumpers can stay before the jump. And of course you can also take a look at the ski-line-track, which today is no longer made of snow or ice, but nowadays consists of a layer of porcelain, etc.
The best thing, however, is to stand directly at the ski jump table/ the take-off edge and to sit down slowly on the take-off bar many stairs higher up – simply a breathtaking view into the depth (only possible as part of a private tour). WOW … !!!
If you want to fully enjoy the tour, you should be good on foot, wear sturdy shoes and be free from vertigo. Yes, it goes high up – to be precise at 142 meters. The so-called „K-point“ is at 125 meters, the run-up length is more than 100 meters, the incline steepness is 35 degrees (!). The average bounce speed is around 95 kilometers per hour (!).
Improvements are made to the jumps again and again: Due to the wind problem, a 1500 m² wind net was installed between the jumping-off-table and the jury tower in December 2011. In addition, a measurement system for the time and strength of the jump was installed into the ski-line-run track in 2012. https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gro%C3%9Fe_Olympiaschanze
The current hill record on the Garmisch-ski-jump reads 145 and 143.5 meters and is held by the Norwegian A. Jacobsen (2014), the Swiss S. Amann (2010) and M. Lindvik (2020).
If you are in good condition, you can take the so-called „sky ladder“ – with about 350 steps – instead of the taking the lift. I finally went down these metal steps.
You ask if I would jump down there or any smaller jumper? Certainly not, BECAUSE no jump forgives a (major) mistake and corrections in the air are only possible to a limited extent. Thankfully, most of the falls went well, but – unfortunately – some ex-jumpers also ended in a wheelchair. What frightens me most is, that you cannot see the landing area from above, you can only check the landing point once you have passed “the backen”. Furthermore there is no escape from the specified track. So you can’t just stop or turn off if you want to do so.
That is exactly why a good alpine skier is not automatically a good ski jumper. Ski-jumpers are a special species and usually have resilent nerves. Other skiers tend to be daredevils, which is exactly the opposite you need for this discipline. In this case you cannot enforce expanse through physical effort or will. The success lies rather in a combination of technology, ease and self-confidence in your own jumping feeling and ability. In addition the setting of the shoe binding also seems to be a crucial aspect and of decisive relevance for the angle of attack of the extra long skis (depending on size and weight, approx. 2.45 meters) when jumping and touch down on the snow (in the Telemark style).
Unfortunately, there was no jumping training during my visit, because I would have liked to ask a jumper about his/ her mode of concentration, about the last thought before the jump…. or better the flight. In addition, I would have liked – typically woman – to learn more about the material of the jumpsuits (obviously a kind of neoprene) and the relative air cushion that forms between body and suit while gliding through the air, etc. The only thing certain in this context ist that all ski jumpers (similar to rhythmic gymnasts) are true “diet artists” with a BMI (body mass index) around 20. Everything is taken into account for a weightlessly and elegantly flight; no matter whether in parallel or so-called V-style, … as long as it is instyle.
Incidentally, the record in ski flying on even larger jumpers like Planica (SLO) or Vikersund (NOR) is 253 meters (Stefan Kraft). What else to say …