Bergisel Ski Jump

Member Rating 0 out of 5 by becks on May 1, 2006

Bergisel Ski Jump

A while ago, at a dinner party, friends entertained us with the highlights of their ten-day trip to London. The wife, with serious upwardly mobile social and career aspirations, was raving over the graves in Westminster Abbey, the history in the Tower of London, and the art in the National Gallery. She was visibly embarrassed and upset when her husband confessed that the highlight for him was a guided tour of Wembley Stadium. We all thought she was going to have apoplexy so with some encouragement from all of us we got him to give us a detailed account of soccer’s home. (Although I’m sure this was not the main cause of the messy divorce a few months later, his love of team sports certainly did not help.)

My top destination in Innsbruck was similarly less high brow than the plethora of museums and palaces that was on the to do list the week before in Vienna. While living in Japan without cable television we often watched ski jumping on Sunday evenings – a nice clean sport without much controversy that is easy to follow even when understanding zip of the commentary. (Only thing that bugs me is the points for style. It always seems like another trick to get a few more officials on the gravy train. I mean it is natural science – if you do not have the right style you simply will not travel far.) I have seen ski jumps from afar in Finland but the Bergisel jump is at the edge of Innsbruck and open to the public when not in actual use. Admission was included in the Innsbruck Card so no one was going to deny me a close-up look.

Innsbruck hosted the Winter Olympic Games in 1964 and in 1976 and on both occasions, the Isel winter sport complex was at the heart of the games. The present ski jump building designed by Zaha Hadid was erected in 2002 but on the exact spot of the original. It is a very modern building with a sharp, clean design that can be seen from afar, including several parts of Innsbruck’s old town.

Close up I was surprised by both the small and large dimensions of the site. Spectators sit in an almost full circle shaped arena that surprised me with its compactness. It almost certainly is an optical illusion as the arena can sit 28,000. The arena is painted in different colored sections, presumably indicating price differences in ticket prices. We entered at the bottom of the site next to the arena allowing us to look up the steep slope of the ski jump to the top of a small looking building 50 m higher.

Visitors are taken up along the edge of the ski jump itself in a glass-walled elevator that allows for clear views of the slope, which was both higher and much steeper than I thought it would be. An alternative to this around 2-minute or 250-m long journey is to walk up 455 steps. A second elevator zooms visitors up inside the building at the top of the ski jump. A viewing platform is available at the top but the views are even more pleasant from the very modern mostly black with lime accents café with glass exterior walls. The view is simply spectacular – both of the ski jump itself and Innsbruck, which is around 250 m lower.

While enjoying a cappuccino (€2.80) in the café we were wondering whether the graveyard that seems to be right behind the end of the landing area of the ski jump was visible to participants too. They start their almost 100-m long run a few levels lower. Viewing the graveyard certainly would encourage jumpers to stay on the straight and narrow while overcoming the height difference of 128 m. The longest jump ever recorded here in competition was 134.5 m.

Admission is a rather steep €8.30 and allows admission to the site as well as a ride up and down the elevator – there was no mention of reduction for those planning to use the 455 stairs. Parents with own children can go up for €15.50 per family, which is less than two adults alone.
Bergiselschanze/Bergisel Ski Jump
Bergisel, Innsbruck, 6020
+43 664 300 33 33

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