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Germany – Good to Know: German Ski Jumping Sites

What little snow we have had so far this winter is almost gone, spring is in the air, but metereologically and calendrically, it is still winter, and therefore time to learn some interesting facts about a favorite winter pastime: Skiing and ski jumping.

To establish a link to our firm locations, we will take a look at the ski jumping tradition in the Black Forest, where the origins of German ski jumping lie.

The first ski jumping competitions took place on the Feldberg around 1894. The German Ski Association was founded in 1905 and the Feldberg region had several ski jumping hills at the beginning of the 20th century, which were the sites for many national and international competitions. The last remaining hills were finally shut down in the 1990s.

The first ski jumping competition on the Hochfirst ski jump (Hochfirstschanze), Germany's largest natural ski jump in Titisee-Neustadt, just half an hour's drive from Freiburg, took place in 1936. In 2000, the hill was modified to accommodate the Black Forest Eagles (Schwarzwaldadler), a group of highly successful World Cup ski jumpers, and was added to the FIS World Cup calendar in 2001. Since then, the venue has hosted numerous international competitions, including a women's event for the first time in 2021, a fact worth noting because, despite many attempts to include them, women are still excluded from participating in the prestigious Four Hills Tournament (Vierschanzentournee), a ski jumping competition consisting of four World Cup events that has been held in Germany and Austria every year since 1953.

The Adler ski stadium in Hinterzarten is a similar distance from Freiburg as Titisee-Neustadt. The four ski jumps at the Adler ski stadium are the Olympic training base for ski jumpers in the Black Forest. Since 1982, the Rothaus Ski Jump K95 has also been the venue for an annual summer ski jumping competition of international importance. Moreover, the facilities in Hinterzarten are a popular training base for national teams from many different countries.

In response to the increasingly frequent lack of snow, the so-called "Black Forest Glacier" was created in 2013 and 10,000 cubic metres of artificial snow were produced in March of that year. The "glacier" reached a length of 65 metres, a width of 26 metres and a height of ten metres. To survive the summer, the "Black Forest Glacier" was covered with insulation panels and silo covers.

But regardless of whether skiing is still appropriate in times of climate change, environmental degradation and energy crises, the sport keeps its fascination, but has also always nourished disputes and resentments. The competition and disputes in divided Germany are legendary.

In the years before the reunification of East and West Germany, the Four Hills Tournament was not only one of the most prestigious ski jumping events, but also the scene of German-German feuds. In 1959, the GDR's People's Chamber passed a law stating that the state emblem should be placed on the national flag and flown at sporting events. However, the International Olympic Committee allowed only one German team to compete in the upcoming Winter Olympics, with a neutral emblem and a common flag. This led to a scandal at the Four Hills Tournament in 1959/60. The West German Ski Association banned the East German Ski Association from flying its own flag and wearing the new GDR emblems at the two German competitions in Oberstdorf and Garmisch. Finally, in January 1960, just six weeks before the start of the Winter Olympics, the National Olympic Committees of the two German states agreed to field a joint team and to adopt the flag proposed by the IOC: the German black, red and gold with five Olympic rings.

Famous ski jumpers such as Jens Weißflog first competed for their native GDR and went on to win medals for the reunited Germany after 1989. So the German ski jumpers' teams could be seen as a model for sports helping overcome borders literally and metaphorically. And the ski jumping tour still continues to bring people from all over the world together – athletes as well as spectators.  


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