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.
Jul 27, 2015, 11:28 PM EDT
An injury to Dalhausser spelled doom to their partnership.
Jul 27, 2015, 9:30 PM EDT
The 2024 bid race is down to four cities.
Jul 27, 2015, 5:18 PM EDT
The three-time Olympic champion hasn’t played since dislocating a shoulder July 10.
Jul 27, 2015, 4:36 PM EDT
Steve Guerdat’s provisional ban was announced last Tuesday.
Jul 27, 2015, 1:59 PM EDT
Hernandez’s history with BMX dates to the womb.
Jul 27, 2015, 11:02 AM EDT
Public support in Boston and Massachusetts has been less than 50 percent for months.
Jul 27, 2015, 10:52 AM EDT
“Why does it feel good, after running, to pour a bottle of water over your head?”
Jul 27, 2015, 8:48 AM EDT
The Rio Games open less than two weeks after the 2016 Tour de France ends.
Jul 27, 2015, 8:18 AM EDT
The U.S. can achieve an Olympic first in Rio de Janeiro next year.
Jul 27, 2015, 7:36 AM EDT
May is a 36-year-old Cirque du Soleil performer who came out of a 10-year retirement.
Jul 27, 2015, 7:04 AM EDT
WIlimovsky won the World Championships 10km.
Jul 26, 2015, 3:21 PM EDT
Brazil’s coach has said Neymar’s Olympic participation is dependent on talks with Barcelona.
Jul 26, 2015, 2:34 PM EDT
More highlights from Phelps’ Q&A at the Doha Goals Forum.
Jul 25, 2015, 11:59 PM EDT
Next up are the P&G Championships in three weeks.
Jul 25, 2015, 7:06 PM EDT
Wu is the second athlete to make the 2016 U.S. Olympic team across all sports.
Jul 25, 2015, 7:43 AM EDT
“She is as dominant as any athlete in any sport,” USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny said.
Jul 24, 2015, 7:09 PM EDT
Johnson is at least the fourth member of the 2008 U.S. Olympic women’s gymnastics team to get engaged.
Jul 24, 2015, 5:22 PM EDT
Less than a month until a showdown with Justin Gatlin at the World Championships.
Jul 24, 2015, 11:41 AM EDT
“I know for a fact I would beat her in boxing. That’s simple. But MMA?”
Jul 24, 2015, 9:26 AM EDT
The emblem is based on three words.
- Phil Dalhausser, Sean Rosenthal split 0
- Boston ends bid for 2024 Olympics; USOC wants another city 4
- Boston mayor: Olympic bid won’t go forward if forced to sign contract today 3
- Neymar: I told Barcelona I want to play in Rio Olympics 1
- Michael Phelps: I’ve looked at my 22 medals together once or twice 0
- Simone Biles routs Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman at Secret Classic 2
- Usain Bolt returns with quick 100m wins in London 1
- 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)