An Innsbruck icon turns twenty. It is rare for a building to achieve icon status within a few years. The Bergisel ski jump has succeeded in doing just that.
I'm not really interested in birthdays. In this case, however, I wanted to find out firsthand how the construction went and what has happened at the Bergisel in the last 20 years. I turned to Alfons Schranz, a 'veteran' member of the Bergisel Sports Club. Not least because Schranz is celebrating two very personal anniversaries at the same time this year, which are interwoven with the Bergisel ski jump. For 40 years (!) he has been working as a volunteer for the Sport-Club Bergisel, which is responsible for the Bergiselschanze. Even more: in the past 20 years, as head of the organizing committee (OC), he has been the general manager, so to speak, of the competitions on Innsbruck's hero's hill.
It almost seemed as if Innsbruck wanted to ring in the new millennium with the new construction of the ski jump on the fateful Bergisel. A new construction of the ski jump, which had already been the center of two Olympic Winter Games, was already on the horizon and was discussed as early as 1990. For years, however, a new building was put on the back burner. When the international ski federation FIS threatened in 1999 to withdraw the competition permission of the old ski jump, the roof was on fire. Zaha Hadid emerged as the clear winner from the rapid tendering process for a "New Bergisel ski jump with observation café". The design by the Pritzker Prize winner (a kind of Nobel Prize for architecture) gave Innsbruck's local mountain a new, sensational appearance. Before that, however, the old structure had to be blown up, which was done on March 25, 2001. It caused a sensation in Innsbruck.
Originally, the first ski jumping competition was not supposed to take place until 2003 on the new hill, which resembles a cobra. I wanted to know from Alfons Schranz why the first competition - it was, of all things, the Innsbruck jumping event of the Four Hills Tournament - took place just ten months after the start of construction. At the time, the former manager of the Postal Distribution Center in Hall was the competition manager for the events and, since 2002, head of the organizing committee (OC) of the Bergisel Ski Jump. "At that time, it occurred to the head of the ÖSV, Peter Schröcksnadel, to schedule the Four Hills Tournament jumping on the new hill in January 2002" Schranz recounts with a laugh. Whereupon really all levers had to be set in motion around the monster project to convert and the date to keep. It took place on January 4, 2002, and saw a winner who made his mark in the sports history books in the very year the ski jump was opened: Sven Hannawald. He was the first ski jumper ever to win all four competitions of the tour.
The ÖSV president's 'Presto order' made the construction companies in particular sweat. "At that time, it was minus 17 degrees in places, and concreting becomes a problem there," Schranz recounts. And yet everything went well. The ski jump resembled an 'inhabited shell', but the competition jumping could be carried out without a hitch.
As OC chief, Schranz was virtually at the center of the storm at all the competition jumping events of the past 20 years. Together with his staff, he was responsible for the preparation and smooth running of the jumping. "From the procurement of accommodation for the teams to the organization of containers (as changing and recreation rooms) to trucks for snow transport, he and his men had to keep an eye on everything. He was also responsible for the preparation of the ski jump and the inrun track. There was always stress when snow had fallen the night before the jumps. "The spectator stands had to be cleared of snow, which was very labor-intensive and sometimes difficult," says Schranz. Only then was the event cleared by the police.
After Sven Hannawald's quadruple triumph in the year the new ski jump was opened, jumping at the Bergisel was sold out for several years in a row. Schranz: "Once there were 3,000 people outside the stadium that we were not allowed to let in." In order to control the maximum attendance of 22,500 spectators, tickets had to be made copy-proof in the beginning. Today, scans make the tickets forgery-proof.
He sees the fact that he has now been able to hand over his 'job' to a successor with one laughing eye and one crying eye. The laughing eye is the free time at Christmas. For him, the time between mid-December and January 6 was the absolute peak season for decades. The crying eye concerns the past. "Actually, the past twenty years were a great time," he says. What still bothers him today are the two total cancellations of the Four Hills Tournament in 2008 and 2022. "Both times the wind threw a spanner in the works," he says.
However, with the acquisition of a floodlight system for the Bergisel Stadium, the wind problem should become smaller in the future. "The wind nets have already helped us a lot. And when a floodlight system is installed, we can start jumping later. That has the advantage that the wind usually dies down in the evening hours."
A volunteer at the "Schule der Alm" alpine farming school, cultural pilgrim, Tyrol aficionado and Innsbruck fan.