Four lives left (

The Norwegian Daniel-André Tande has to overcome his fear of heights before every jump. It’s all the more difficult on the huge ski jumps.

Foto: imago images/GEPA pictures

Four years ago, Daniel-André Tande was crowned ski flying world champion in Oberstdorf. 15 months ago, he and his Norwegian colleagues won team gold at the World Championships on the largest hills in the world for the third time in a row. Nevertheless, it is a real miracle that one of the greatest aerialists in history wants to compete in his home country at the Ski Flying World Championships in Vikersund from Thursday.

“I can promise that I’ll at least try,” said Tande last Sunday after his sensational victory in the legendary Holmenkollen competition in Oslo. After all, it will take a lot for this incredibly brave man to throw himself off Vikersund’s »Monsterbakken« – the largest ski jump in the world.

His last jump from such a ski-flying hill to date ended in tragedy. Daniel-André Tande was on the verge of death after his horrific fall on March 25, 2021 on the gigantic Planica facility. He was said not to have felt his pulse for three long minutes, and Tande had to be revived. He was intubated and his lungs punctured. He suffered cerebral hemorrhage and broke his collarbone. In order to relieve his brain, the Slovenian doctors put him in an artificial coma, from which he only woke up four days later.

Just about anyone else would have given up at that moment and pursued less life-threatening activities, but Tande woke up with a different idea. »From the first moment I asked myself when I would be able to jump again. Resigning was never an option,” said the 28-year-old at the turn of the year during the Four Hills Tournament.

The athlete, who is also in demand as a model, could have made a good living even without being a ski jumper, but for him there was no alternative to his great love for sports. To process the fall, he watched over and over the horrific video of his mid-air flip and landing hard on the landing slope. Tande just wanted to know what he had done wrong that day.

This brought him pure admiration not only in the aviation scene. »The fact that he faced this experience so aggressively is unbelievably strong. Anyone else would have tried to hide that as much as possible,” says Sven Hannawald. The German, himself a two-time ski flying world champion, remembers a similar experience in his career: »It turned me around in the air during the first ski flying in Oberstdorf in 1995 and I had no desire to ever watch these scenes again.«

Tande, however, climbed a small hill again for the first time five months after the near fatal fall. Mama Trude, his biggest fan, was there too. She had given her okay to her beloved son. And she was also there when this story, which comes along better than any Hollywood film, experienced its provisional happy ending. Her son won the World Cup in Oslo on Sunday. ‘That’s completely sick, it doesn’t make any sense. It doesn’t get any better,” Tande said afterwards, crying on his mother’s shoulder.

It was a miracle that he managed to return to the world elite at all. To be at the top now, an even bigger one. “That was one of the greatest moments for the ski jumping family, many were moved to tears,” reported his trainer Alexander Stöckl. The current ski flying world champion Karl Geiger also bowed to Tande: »You rocked the mountain.«

This almost unbelievable comeback can be explained by the fact that the Norwegian has already had many such experiences. As a newborn, his heart once stopped beating. ‘I almost died after being vaccinated with mercury, which was used at the time. Then I was hit by a car when I was 13,” Tande once told the “Bild”. In 2018 he also fell ill with the rare Stevens-Johnson syndrome, in which the immune system attacks its own body cells. And finally that terrible fall. »They say: A cat has nine lives. So I’ve got four left,« Tande has long since taken this streak of bad luck with humour.

Now in all probability he will throw himself down this huge ski jump in Vikersund. An unbelievable achievement, especially since Daniel-André Tande once admitted that he has to overcome his fear of heights before every jump: “It always overcomes me when I sit on top of the hill and look down.” Of course, Tande still knows what awaits him there this time not. But maybe after the near-death experience in Planica it will be the next gold medal. Greetings from Hollywood.



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