“Skipping twelve months? No problem “

Winter sports in Brandenburg

“Skipping twelve months? No problem ”

Wed 01/18/23 | 06:04 | from Shea Westhoff


Video: rbb24 | 01/18/2023 | Shea Westhoff | Photo: imago

Flat Brandenburg has a long tradition of winter sports. But warm winters are increasingly becoming a problem. The ski jumpers from Bad Freienwalde have found a solution. Other disciplines have more difficulty. By Shea Westoff

At the top of the 40 meter high diving tower in Bad Freienwalde (Märkisch-Oderland), on the starting beam, Florian Fechner sits in a full ski jumping suit made of glittering bronze. The difference in height between the top of the tower and the valley is almost 100 meters. The 13-year-old is about to throw himself on his skis.

From here it looks like a dotted hidden object: the approximately 200 ski jumping enthusiasts who celebrate the annual “Winter Sports Day” with mulled wine and bockwurst on the WSV 1923 grounds in the valley .

South Germans are surprised

This year there is a very special occasion, because the association celebrates its foundation 100 years ago. Today the WSV runs extremely successful youth work, currently lists 27 active jumpers. According to the club, this makes them one of the most successful bases in the youth field. Three of these talents are currently sent to elite federal bases.

Florian Fechner would also like to become one of the elite schools and professional ski pilots and thus continue the Brandenburg success story. He puts on his orange-tinted ski goggles.

100 years of winter sports in Bad Freienwalde

Bad Freienwald in Märkisch-Oderland is a traditional winter sports resort. The resident there WSV was founded in 1923. In GDR times, ski jumping played less and less of a role, there was no longer any jumping on the existing ski jumps in Papengrund. In 2001 the club was re-established and the ski jumps were rebuilt. Wednesday evening, the club celebrates its 100th anniversary. One of the expected guests will be Prime Minister of Brandenburg, Dietmar Woidke.

One last question before he flies off down the valley: Aren’t all the youngsters from Bavaria, Swabia and Baden in the national school cups really surprised to be competing against someone from Brandenburg by elsewhere rather flat? It happens, he said. “We are also the northernmost ski jumping area in Germany. There is rarely snow here.”

Even that day, a Sunday, the temperature outside was a balmy nine degrees. The sun has just broken through the gray cloud cover. Down in the valley: no white powder, but a green lawn.

12 months of ski jumping without snow

That’s exactly what you’re equipped for here. Ski jumpers do not ski on a snowy hill, but on irrigated ceramic tracks, below they land on plastic mats instead of on snow – and the track behind is a wide meadow. That’s the concept in Bad Freienwalde, and it works.

Florian Fechner, young ski jumperFlorian Fechner, junior ski jumper at WSV 1923

Florian Fechner now squats, picks up momentum, accelerates, runs down the ramp, pushes himself off the takeoff and lays in the air, leaning his body forward. The crowd in the valley, which had just become agitated, now raises its eyes, bewitched. “Florian, fliiiieg,” the festival moderator calls into the microphone. And the 13-year-old flies as far as he can, landing perfectly from 63 yards. Applause.

There is no title to win today, it’s show. But the people here are visibly proud of their club and the young skiers.

We have an excellent location in Brandenburg.

Dieter Bosse, President of the WSV

One of the enthusiastic spectators is Dieter Bosse. He was once a hotelier and owner of a four-star hotel in Bad Freienwalde. His passion is ski jumping. After this fell increasingly asleep in GDR times and the existing ski jumps were dismantled and dismantled by the Russian allies, he was one of those who wanted to revive the ski jump in skiing in 2001.

He brings together supporters, financiers, gradually builds four ski jumps at Papengrund in Bad Freienwalde with campaign comrades: first the small 10 and 20-meter jumps, and finally in 2008 the large 60-meter jump, d ‘where Florian Fechner also jumps.

Bosse proudly says that a DSV national trainer told him what an advantageous place Bad Freienwalde is that you can jump here all year round. In many classic winter sports regions, artificial snow must be made and additional snow retaining nets installed. “But if there’s no snow, those jumps can’t be jumped either,” says Bosse. “So we have a great location in Brandenburg. Jumping for 12 months? No problem.”

Climatologists alarmed

In other winter sports regions, especially those that favor popular sports, global warming is increasingly noticeable. The snow line is rising. “The winter season starts later and ends earlier,” says Maximilian Witting, who studies climate and environmental change at Ludwig Maximilian University in Munich. This is a problem for ski resorts, as the lucrative business during the Christmas holidays becomes increasingly uncertain. The consequences: a “concentration process”, as Witting puts it. Winter sports will focus more and more on fewer and fewer higher places.

This could also become a problem for a place like Bad Freienwalde, even though it focuses on snow-free sports all year round. Ski jumping is a winter sport, children are delighted with contact with real snow, with real ice. Winter sports actually have a problem with young people, says Witting: Trips to snowy regions would continue, which would make it more expensive, complicate, for example, the offer of ski holidays. “The base is getting smaller.” Sooner or later, Brandenburg will also feel it.

“Not the snow like 20 years ago”

The Brandenburg Land Ski Association is currently in full swing and has even grown in recent years, as Land President Robert Busch points out. Nevertheless, he has no illusions given the lack of snow again: “It’s really problematic this year.

The national cross-country skiing championships had to be canceled due to lack of snow. And in Oberwiesenthal, in February, venue for the regional alpine skiing and snowboarding championships []so far there is no snow.

“Here in the lowlands, we won’t have the snow we had 20 years ago,” he says. “And you have to see how you compensate for that.” But the association is doing well. Carpet ski jumping and carpet cross-country skiing already exist, as well as a ski simulator in Kolzenburg. However, Busch points out that snowboarding or downhill skiing is simply unthinkable without snow.

These are thoughts that WSV club president Dieter Bosse need not worry about, ski jumping is designed for twelve months without snow. He considers the location of Bad Freienwalde to be ideal. “We are on the outskirts of Berlin, the environment is also good. We acquire children and young athletes from all over the region, including the capital.”

Start of the 22/23 World Cup on mats

Thirteen-year-old prospect Florian Fechner climbs back up the hill to prepare for the next jump, on mats, in an outside temperature of nine degrees.

The boy from Bad Freienwalde is no different from the professional ski jumpers at the start of the current World Cup season. They were due to start the tournament in Wisla, Poland in early November in order to avoid the 2022 World Cup dates. But it was way too hot, even for artificial snow. And so the jumpers flew on green carpets for the first time.

Broadcast: Antenna Brandenburg, 01/18/2023, 9:20 a.m.

Posted by Shea Westhoff

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