Ski jumping soon in Africa too?
Norway coach calls for a rethink before the Four Hills Tournament
Created: 12/26/2022, 12:44 p.m
By: Patrick Huljina
Ski jumping faces great challenges.
The Norwegian national coach Alexander Stöckl calls for a rethink in order to secure the future of the sport.
Engelberg/Munich – The Four Hills Tournament is one of the highlights of the winter sports season.
The opening event on Thursday (December 29) in Oberstdorf is sold out.
More than 25,000 spectators are expected in the Arena am Schattenberg - millions in front of the TV sets.
The ski jumping fans in the Allgäu and in front of the television screens will then see a familiar picture: a ski jump prepared with snow.
However, this is no longer a matter of course.
At the start of the Ski Jumping World Cup in Wisla, Poland, which was postponed because of the World Cup in Qatar, it didn't look like winter.
It was early November and the ski jumpers landed on green mats instead of snow because it hadn't snowed in Wisla yet.
A problem that could occur more often in the future.
Not least because of this, the Norwegian national ski jumping coach Alexander Stöckl calls for a rethink in order to secure the future of his sport.
Norway coach calls for rethinking ski jumping: year-round instead of winter sports
"I think it's good if we try to think all year round," said the 49-year-old Austrian in a media session on the sidelines of the World Cup in Engelberg.
"I believe that we are an extreme sport and that you can do it no matter where and no matter how," explained Stöckl.
You have to get away from the term "winter sports".
"We're lucky that we have the plastic covered hills, that it's feasible and that we don't need snow," said the Norwegian national coach, also with a view to climate change.
He believes: "Either we continue to call ourselves winter sports and die in winter - because at some point it won't exist anymore.
Or we call ourselves extreme sports and are more open to new destinations.”
The Norwegian national ski jumping coach Alexander Stöckl calls for a rethink for the future of his sport.
© IMAGO/GEPA pictures/Thomas Bachun
Ski jumping soon in Africa or South America?
– “Goal to be a world sport”
FIS race director Sandro Pertile agrees.
"Ski jumping should really aim to be a world sport that is not only popular in Europe but is able to attract interest, sponsors and spectators from every corner of the world," he demanded after the World Cup opener.
This is a "long-term vision," Pertile told the ski-jumping magazine
But the mat jumping in Wisla showed "that our dream can be big."
Most of the World Cup competitions this season will take place in Europe.
There is also one competition each in the USA and Japan.
"How would it be if, in ten years, children all over the world dreamed of flying 250 meters on skis - and not only those who ski in Europe or maybe in America?" asked Norway coach Stöckl.
Plastic ski jumps can be put up anywhere.
Ski jumping would also be possible in Africa, Australia or South America.
Geiger: "Ski jumping is a winter sport" - willingness to change
But how popular are winter sports events in regions where little or no snow falls?
The 2022 Winter Olympics in China were already heavily criticized – and not just because of the political situation.
There was no tradition of winter sports in the hilly region northwest of Beijing.
Huge sports facilities had to be rebuilt in the middle of nature, the snow was artificially produced.
The assignment of the Asian Winter Games 2029 in the desert of Saudi Arabia also caused an outcry in the scene.
Four Hills Tournament 2022/23: schedule, dates, hills - all information
Food trend winter barbecues: simple, delicious, unforgettable
Biathlon World Cup 2022/2023: dates, schedule and disciplines
Winter sports dream couple has a child: Can little Alexis follow in his father's giant footsteps?
Ski Jumping World Cup 2022/23: Schedule with all dates, competitions and locations
Fancy a journey of discovery?
"Ski jumping is a winter sport," says Germany's best ski jumper Karl Geiger.
But the willingness to change is definitely there.
"Basically, I do believe that you always have to develop further," he said.
"If jumping on mats makes more sense, I'm the last one going to fight it.
We think it's best when there's snow and when it's winter, but sometimes you just can't choose," says Geiger.