The form of the subjunctive is safer. Nobody in the large group of ski jumpers and especially female ski jumpers says it outright. It is still a long way from being dry. Some committees still have to meet, experts heard, majorities found, resolutions passed. And yet the anticipation increases. So: It would actually be a big step forward and it could probably work too, namely that the ski jumpers might be able to contest their first Four Hills Tournament in the coming winter.
The men have gone further, they had founded the format in 1952 as an annual event, and now the start of the 70th Four Hills Tournament began in Oberstdorf with the qualification. Although women occasionally jumped from jumps in the early years, this discipline remained a single-sex sport for decades, and although female jumpers in World Cups, World Championships and the Olympics have long celebrated victories and medals, the tour remained a bastion for men. Women jump today, some already from Flugbakken, they work as trainers, form national teams, but they are still in the audience at the Four Hills Tournament.
The ski jumping series is considered a fascination, a success story and an example of how you can make a lot out of a little, as Andreas Bauer also says. Until recently he trained the German female ski jumpers and has now switched to the FIS World Federation, as the ski jumping representative of the German Ski Association. Bauer says: “The tour has a long tradition and everyone is talking about it.” Four jumps, each different, each with its own deviousness, whereby the narrow hill in Innsbruck is most feared.
In addition, this mini tour has a format with clearly defined boundaries. Let’s go after Christmas; after eleven days, on Epiphany, it’s over. In this short time, however, in which most sports are idle, the stage opens up to the jumpers. In addition, nature around the turn of the year is no longer green and mostly no longer white, but at most mud green and foggy gray, also windy and wet, which means: everyone sits in the living room in front of the TV for four qualifications and finals.
Why it takes so long? The tour is sluggish, like a heavy steamer
The reason why Bauer does not want to make a forecast either, even though tour president Peter Kruijer has already expressed his benevolence for 2022/2023, is due to the fact that the tour is exciting, exclusive and mostly surprising, but also sluggish, like a heavy steamer. Procedures must be followed to accept the jumpers. The new television format has to be coordinated, the rights dealer has to join in and rearrange himself. The ski associations DSV and ÖSV must first agree and agree, and the four organizing committees of the four ski jumps anyway. When all of this has been clarified, an application is submitted to the Fis, whose calendar and jumping committees finally decide.
Just – what exactly? It had been a long time to worry about how twice eight decision days (each qualifying and final) should be squeezed into the tight time until January 6th, because 16 is bigger than eleven. And even if the mornings are used, many of the upcoming tours could be threatened with abandonment. Because ski jumping does not work when the wind is too strong, so you urgently need the rest days, which are actually alternative days. So what to do The tour organizers brooded over the problem and actually found an innovative, almost ingenious solution: the opposite tour.
The space for the material containers and changing rooms is already full, a completely different solution is needed
If you wanted to send both men and women together on the journey from Oberstdorf to Bischofshofen as if on a hike, then not only would there be hardly any space for the competitions, but also everything that takes place in between, the preparatory phases, the mixed zones, Award ceremonies, press conferences, doping controls. In addition, there is not an infinite amount of space around a ski jumping stadium, and the men’s container village with the changing and material booths is already fully occupied.
Therefore, if it came to that, women and men should come to meet each other. The model, says Bauer, could look like the women starting in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and jumping on in Oberstdorf, while the men coming from there continue in Garmisch. The same then in Austria – from Bischofshofen to Innsbruck and vice versa. That sounds complicated, but it solves a lot of problems. Suddenly there would be enough space everywhere, the organizers and restaurants earned more money because the tour would last twice as long. And the television fans at home would in principle no longer have to go outside, because with clever planning of the tour, you can switch from one decision to another.
As I said, things are looking pretty good with the introduction of the full tour. After that, the only thing missing was ski flying for women until full equality was achieved. But that takes a few more years, because the tremendous forces require more experience. In addition, the tour is a completely different number anyway, namely the decisive last component, says ski jumping expert Andreas Bauer, he says: “For me, the women’s tour would be perfect equality in ski jumping.” If it came to that.