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Stadium announcer at the Nordic World Ski Championships: Who do you comment for when there are no fans?

2021-03-03T11:34:21.649Z

No spectators are allowed at the World Cup in Oberstdorf. Here, stadium announcer Jens Zimmermann explains why he still comments on the competitions emotionally - but the absence of the audience should also be audible.



Icon: enlarge

No spectators are allowed in Oberstdorf, so the organizers rely on a so-called "Papplikum"

Photo: 

Frank Hoermann / Sven Simon / picture alliance

Jens Zimmermann sits in the stands of the cross-country stadium in Oberstdorf.

With an outside temperature of 15 degrees and bright sunshine, there is no winter sports feeling.

The women's individual competition over 10 kilometers begins in a few minutes.

Zimmermann will then introduce all 88 starters by name, in the end the Norwegian Therese Johaug will run to her second gold medal.

The 48-year-old carpenter is an experienced hall or stadium announcer, the Nordic World Ski Championships is not his first event without an audience - and it is still something special for him.

SPIEGEL:

Mr. Zimmermann, for whom are you commenting on the competitions here in Oberstdorf?

Zimmermann:

For the athletes.

We are trying with our team to create the environment for a normal world championship for the athletes, only the spectators are not sitting in the stands.

What we deliberately do not do is bring in audience sound.

SPIEGEL:

There is one exception to this rule.

Zimmermann:

In the cross-country stadium, when we cross the finish line, we generate a very slight spectator noise, but not to an exaggerated degree.

That would contradict our athlete's heart.

Fans cannot be replaced by a sound file.

That has something to do with respect.

You can definitely feel the lack.

SPIEGEL:

Was that your decision?

Zimmermann:

We decided that together with the organizing committee.

That suits Oberstdorf better than if we bring a fictional party over.

SPIEGEL:

Your role is oriented towards the athlete and not towards the TV viewer?

Zimmermann:

In normal times, the production of sporting events is for the spectators on site and now mainly for the competitors.

Actually, it should be like this: The spark jumps from sport to the audience and then jumps back again.

Unfortunately, this is now completely eliminated.

Icon: enlarge

Jens Zimmermann (r.) At the Four Hills Tournament 2018/2019 in an interview with ski jumper Severin Freund

Photo: 

Photo booth / Weller / imago images

SPIEGEL:

But you can't do without passion.

Zimmermann:

Some people wonder why I react so emotionally when nobody is sitting in the stands.

When I moderate ski jumping in front of 25,000 people and I can encourage them to participate, that's one of the nicest aspects of my work.

It's different here in Oberstdorf, but I was able to prepare for it for a long time.

SPIEGEL:

You were at the Handball World Cup in Egypt in January and have already had experience without a spectator.

Has your work become more boring?

Zimmermann:

I don't think about it.

I approach the matter as normal and block out the missing spectators when I enter my speaker's booth.

There is no difference in preparation either.

I pass on the same information about the athletes, regardless of whether there are 20,000 spectators or 100 volunteers.

SPIEGEL:

Music is part and parcel of ski jumping in particular.

Do not do without it.

Zimmermann:

Oberstdorf has been going somewhere in the middle for a long time.

Aprés-ski hits are certainly played here, but - unlike in Innsbruck or Bischofshofen at the Four Hills Tournament, for example - Oberstdorf usually has a lot of specialist audiences who don't want the party character to be disproportionate.

For the World Cup, we mainly had to adapt our pre-program and break program, but there really isn't much difference in terms of music.

SPIEGEL:

Ski jumping also includes the elongated "pull" of the audience.

Do you have to control yourself in order not to slip into a substitute role?

Zimmermann:

That has not happened to me yet - and that is also a conscious decision.

Because as you say it, that's what the audience does.

When it comes to »pulling«, I hold back in non-Corona times.

What I do is the "Oh" in the inrun, but then the audience has to take over.

I'm doing that at the World Cup too, but I'm calm after the jump.

I've heard that colleagues at other jumps pulled the "pull" through to the landing, but as a TV viewer I found that rather exhausting.

SPIEGEL:

Were there any situations at the World Cup in which you had to slow down?

Zimmermann:

When Therese Johaug won the skiathlon, I asked the volunteers in the stands to get up and prepare Johaug a proper finish.

I was then asked by stadium security to please refrain from doing this.

Because the volunteers are allowed to sit and clap, but according to the hygiene concept they should not stand up.

Icon: enlarge

Behind the "Papplikum" in the stands in Oberstdorf there are often volunteers who at least spread a little mood

Photo: 

Daniel Karmann / dpa

SPIEGEL:

Stadium announcers are like entertainers.

How strong is your desire to come to the fore?

Zimmermann:

It's about infotainment and not entertainment.

It is important to me that people remember me because they felt well informed.

If they remembered me because I was wearing a hat or wearing extravagant trousers, that would not be a sign of quality for me.

SPIEGEL:

What else is important to you?

Zimmermann:

I would never joke about athletes or even speak of exotic characters when athletes from Andorra, Tanzania or Ecuador compete.

They have qualified and are living their dream.

SPIEGEL:

The World Cup mascot Nordi has a difficult job in front of empty ranks.

Zimmermann:

I'm basically a big fan of mascots - if the person inside knows what they're doing.

This is entertainment and can be helpful.

It was here that the costume was produced.

But there are volunteers, there are athletes, there should also be journalists who take photos with Nordi.

He is one of them.

SPIEGEL:

Oberstdorf is a home World Cup.

How do you feel about partial support from German athletes?

Zimmermann:

To a certain extent, that is legitimate and also normal.

This is also done in other countries.

However, fair play is the top priority here too, but we can certainly convey a sense of home to a German athlete.

Icon: The mirror

Source: spiegel

All sports articles on 2021-03-03

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