Jan 8, 2013, 6:32 PM EDT
BISCHOFSHOFEN, AUSTRIA – With the Super Bowl less than a month away, it’s nearly that time of year when the nation shifts its focus to the NFL’s championship game on that unofficial holiday. Few sporting events can compare, of course, so when I was told I would be attending the “Super Bowl of ski jumping” – the Four Hills tournament – I was a bit skeptical of this bold proclamation.
But, as someone who has now attended both sporting events, I can attest that it’s not far off.
Since 1952, the world’s best ski jumpers have competed in the Four Hills, officially the Vierschanzentournee, descending upon four cities in Germany and Austria every year for this eight-day competition in hopes of being crowned champion of this prestigious event. I hadn’t been in Germany for more than a few hours when I began seeing evidence of the Four Hills’ popularity. Posters in the Munich airport, billboards along the streets, pictures in the newspapers and on TV – this is a big deal, especially for the two host countries whose rivalry is filled with centuries of history.
Always donning their countries’ colors, the crowds came in astonishing numbers – over 100,000 throughout the competition – packing into these small venues for a chance to see their nation’s finest take off at over 55 miles per hour, traveling nearly the length of a football field-and-a-half. The skiing-mad Austrians would go wild when one of their athletes soared through the air. Waving Austrian flags created a sea of red and white in the Innsbruck and Bischofshofen stadiums and everyone shouted “ZZZ,” which I was told is supposed to be the sound a ski jumper’s flight makes.
Luckily for the Austrians, they have the best ski jumper in the world in Gregor Schlierenzauer, a 23-year-old phenom who’s already considered among the sport’s all-time greats. With a nearly flawless performance throughout the tournament, “Schlieri” clinched his second straight Four Hills title, sending the fans and local press into a frenzy. After his final jump in Bischofshofen, the young Austrian star basked in the moment at the bottom of the hill, pumping his skis toward the sky. When he finally lifted the Four Hills trophy above his head, the crowd erupted one final time, as fireworks lit up the night sky.
The Super Bowl metaphor certainly has its holes, but the Four Hills Tournament lived up to its billing.
Oct 30, 2014, 8:37 AM EDT
Figure skating champion joins MLB outfielder, ballerina.
Oct 29, 2014, 4:36 PM EDT
Anderson is the two-time reigning USA Volleyball Player of the Year.
Oct 29, 2014, 3:03 PM EDT
The 2018 World Championships were already awarded.
Oct 29, 2014, 2:20 PM EDT
Tennis player flew from Singapore to Denmark to New York this week.
Oct 29, 2014, 10:04 AM EDT
Rising black smoke caused brief panic, but the fire was quickly put out.
Oct 29, 2014, 9:48 AM EDT
Bruno Grandi was at the helm for a judging overhaul.
Oct 29, 2014, 9:35 AM EDT
One of the U.S.’ strongest skaters from last season is not on the team.
Oct 28, 2014, 1:58 PM EDT
Sundquist was a partially eaten gingerbread man, a leg lamp and a flamingo in recent years.
Oct 28, 2014, 1:31 PM EDT
Either Berlin or Hamburg will be chosen in March.
Oct 28, 2014, 9:24 AM EDT
Those against Boston hosting an Olympics sent a letter to the USOC.
Oct 28, 2014, 9:03 AM EDT
Judge rules in lawsuit over environmental concerns.
Oct 27, 2014, 4:10 PM EDT
China’s Zhang Jike kicked through an advertising board.
Oct 27, 2014, 3:42 PM EDT
The list includes a four-time Olympic champion.
Oct 27, 2014, 9:58 AM EDT
Rousseff could join a short list of women to declare open an Olympics in two years.
Oct 27, 2014, 9:20 AM EDT
Alexander Kaptarenko carried a Sochi Olympic torch for 200 meters in December.
Oct 27, 2014, 9:00 AM EDT
Pistorius was sentenced to no more than five years behind prison last week.
Oct 26, 2014, 8:47 PM EDT
Russian who was too young for Sochi Olympics takes title.
Oct 26, 2014, 1:04 PM EDT
Olympic champion’s worst-ever result in Soelden.
Oct 25, 2014, 11:44 PM EDT
Machida breaks record for winning margin; U.S. matches its longest drought.
Oct 25, 2014, 4:02 PM EDT
Two Russians lead the way.
- Matt Anderson taking break from volleyball due to depression 0
- Caroline Wozniacki nervous for New York City Marathon, even in her dreams 0
- Prosecutors to appeal Oscar Pistorius verdict, sentence 3
- Russian triumphs at Skate America; Gracie Gold third (video) 4
- Ted Ligety struggles in first race of season (video) 0
- Japan’s Machida routs U.S. men at Skate America; ice dancers make history 0
- Mikaela Shiffrin wins her first World Cup giant slalom in Soelden tie (video) 0
- Emotional Bode Miller medals in race that mattered most (61)
- Russian women kissing after relay victory at World Championships causes stir (60)
- IOC drops wrestling from 2020 Olympics (47)
- South Korea filing official complaint over Yuna Kim’s Olympic silver (39)
- Zola Budd, 47, dominates college runners in 5K (33)