Being back in Seefeld after ten years has been a real treat. Having spent most of my childhood growing up in Munich and visiting Seefeld regularly in the winter and summer, all I can say is I love being back. This time I’m experiencing some new winter sports – the biathlon, bobsleigh, curling and the ski jump (well sort of!)
Martin Tauber – a winter biathlete from the Turin 2006 Winter Olympics – and his instructors from the Cross Country Academy, provided excellent biathlon tuition. After 10 minutes my group and I were happily skating our way round Seefeld’s introductory cross country tracks.
Then it came to the shooting section of the biathlon. There’s a real rush of adrenaline after you’ve skated around for five minutes and then stop to take aim and hit your five targets.
Igls will host the bobsleigh, skeleton and luge for the games and I have been able to ‘test-run’ the slope and try out another new winter sport. The experience in the bobsleigh struck me as fairly similar to a fairground ride. Adrenaline pumping before you set off, a few screams on the way down and then before you know it (45 seconds in this case) it is over.
The bobsleigh run at Igls offers visitors to the Innsbruck region the opportunity to try out a very popular winter event for themselves. With a driver and up to five people in the bobsleigh with you, you’ll reach speeds of between 85-100 km an hour.
Next up on the winter sports agenda was curling.
Curling is a lot harder than it looks. Trying to balance wearing a shoe purposefully designed with absolutely no grip whatsoever to slide on the ice, holding a broom in one hand, and releasing a heavy curling stone in the other towards the target is not easy.
With expert tuition from Herbert Dalik – a former member of the 1980/81 Austrian Curling team – we got to grips with the very basics of curling. As a sport, I didn’t get the same adrenaline rush as in the bobsleigh, but to send your stone down the ice lane, in a vaguely straight line in the direction of the target is satisfying.
Next up was ski jumping – although thankfully I was nowhere near giving this sport a go. We visited the ‘Bergisel’ in Innsbruck, home of the 1964 and 1976 Olympic Winter Games. This venue won’t feature as part of the YOG 2012 as the jump is too big for the younger athletes. Instead their competition will take place in Seefeld.
What immediately struck me as I stood, staring down the huge 98m ramp, is the sheer admiration I have for the ski jumping athletes. These athletes send themselves down a huge ramp, launch themselves high into the air, and land on hard, solid snow.
Trying these activities for the first time has given me a real insight into the other winter sports available besides skiing and snowboarding. They all offer something different for the keen sportsperson and a new way to experience the enjoyment of a ski resort.
I now have an even greater amount of respect for the athletes that can hurl themselves down a 98m ramp on massive skis, achieve startling speeds on cross country skis only to then aim and successfully shoot at five tiny targets, reach speeds of up to 120 kmph in a bobsleigh or balance successfully on ice with an immense amount of precision.
After experiencing a taster of these sports, I’m really looking forward to watching the first-ever winter Youth Olympic Games in January 2012 in action in Seefeld and Innsbruck.
Ski Club of Great Britain