“Stand over here!” Lucy insisted, as she rang her little bell to get our attention. Austrian guided tours have a certain level of strictness that we were not quite accustomed to. “Listen!” she proclaimed often, but not in a rude way. It was more that she was so enthusiastic about what we were seeing, that she didn’t want us to miss any of it. And she valued punctuality.
We had just finished a brief walking tour of Innsbruck with Lucy, and were now visiting the new Bergisel Ski Jump with her. Bergisel Peak was the site of a freedom battle almost 200 years ago. In 1925, the first ski jump was built. The jump was used in both the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics – the Olympic torches are still at the jump. In 1988, Pope John Paul II held mass in the landing area of the jump. It is used annually for International Four Jump Tournament (winter) and the International Ski Jumping Competition (summer).
After visiting the torches and landing area, we next went up the 47 meter glass elevator. On the way up, we saw the shocking curve of the actual jump. My eyes widened as I saw how steep the jump is, and the distance down to the landing area. At the top, we got yet another perspective, as we looked directly down the take-off area. I think I’ll keep my day job.
Two aspects of the ski jump that make it more than a ski jump, and therefore, more fulfilling to visit, are the architecture of the new mountaintop building, and the small café contained in it. The ski jump was rebuilt and reopened in 2002. The architect was the famous Zaha Hadid, of London. The building is a work of art visible from all parts of town. It is definitely a source of pride for local folks. The top of the jump and the café have a spectacular 360 view north to Innsbruck and the Karwendel range, and south to Brenner Pass and Italy. I can highly recommend the hot chocolate.
It is easy to reach the Bergisel Ski Jump by using the new Sightseer tourist shuttle from town (see overview for details on shuttle). The entrance fee is €6 for adults, €3 for kids age 6-14, and free under age 6. Entrance is free to holders of the Innsbruck Card (see overview). Hours are 9am-5pm daily.
Guided tours are available, but in my opinion are unnecessary. The site is self-explanatory and the history is available in the brochure. But of course, meeting Lucy was an experience in itself.