Meeting with the legends…
I’ve been to a few ski jumping events now since my first in 2011. Last years Zakopane trip was awesome but I wanted a bigger, larger hill! It had to be Oberstdorf – simple.
I managed to get a VIP ticket including the backstage pass. I’m not going to lie, it cost quite a bit of cash. However, I wanted to get to be with the jumpers. I’d been close in Zakopane and enough to get a Hi-5 from Kamil Stoch along with autograph. This time, I really wanted to experience what they experience.
The ticket gave us access to the VIP glass house which included food and drink. The backstage pass gave us a 20min tour with a guide to the athletes area. Our guide Oskar gave us an in-depth talk about the hill, the revamp and what ski jumping is all about. He took us right down to where they were doing warm ups. Now, it was at this time things started to get magical for me…. Noriaki Kasai was jogging past with his headphones on. I was gobsmacked! The legend had jogged past me. I didn’t even get chance to fumble with my camera or anything. That was it, even if I left home for now, I was chuffed! But…I wanted more! And Oskar delivered! Our group was very respectful and didn’t annoy the athletes after all there were preparing to fly through the air at 105 kph and land 240-odd meters downwind. I SO WANT TO TRY THIS ONE DAY!
The next stop gave us chance to Richard Freitag and Piotr Żyła playing football volleyball. I wanted to jump in and have a kick about with them but sensible head prevailed. Kraft was looking down thinking about his forthcoming jump and you could tell this guy was in the zone. I didn’t see my hero yet (though) where was the elusive Peter Prevc?
It wasn’t long before our time was up and the backstage tour was over. We headed back to the VIP glass house and got our positions, along with a beer or three. The food was awesome and the service was impeccable. There wasn’t five seconds had gone by and the waitresses were there with a fresh beer / coffee etc. We met a great couple who sat next to us. I didn’t get their names but they were great. My Eddie the Eagle t-shirt was the ice breaker!
The 1st round was super! Jump after jump it was great better, longer, further. After the 1st round the weather started to close in. It wasn’t looking at all! In fact, they announced the 2nd round would be cancelled and 1st round jumps would be classed at the overall results.
This was a great shame as we’d come a long way and paid a lot however, this had to be turned into an opportunity. I wondered, could we go see the jumpers again? After all what will they be doing? So as quick as that it was coat and hat on and off out the doors! We headed back to the area we’d been before with our passes. This time they didn’t seem bothered so we waltzed past. Sure enough, this was the golden moment! Would i see Peter? We hovered around a bit allowing the reporters and TV crew to do their interviews. Once that was out of the way it was our chance! First up was Stephan Leyhe who is a great jumper for the German team…A picture and shake of the hand later, i still couldn’t believe it. It was like seeing your heroes. Next up, Piotr Żyła (Pol), Jurij Tepeš (Slo) and we saw Robert lewandowski who plays as a striker for the German club Bayern Munich.
This was awesome…all these people…But where is bloody Peter Prevc! And at that moment, who comes out of the Slovenian team door – YEP! HIM! I couldn’t believe it, finally I get to see the dude i follow. I grabbed an autograph from him but unfortunately the picture didn’t come out. Not the end of the world as i’d met the guy in real life.