I’m sitting in the café at the top of the Bergisel ski jump in Austria, site of the 1964 and 1976 Winter Olympics. It’s a nauseating height. The kind that even spectacular panoramic views can’t help you ignore. I feel as if the collective nerves and adrenalin of the hundreds of competitors who have launched themselves into record books have gathered in my stomach.
I order a strong espresso but it only seems to heighten the nausea, so, I order an apple Strudel in an attempt to take my mind off the scenery and onto my stomach.
Then I saw it. The reason I was so nervous. A young Austrian jumper, on the slope, preparing to jump. Perhaps I had been channeling his nerves?
Heart racing, perspiration pouring down, a quick prayer as the seconds ticked by….and that was just me! In contrast, this athlete appeared as cool as an Austrian snowflake. His lithe body bends, clips onto the two ski rails , adjusted his vest and soars.
Skis crossed, sky high and then a graceful landing down the artificial grass slope. A terrain watered and tendered like a prize cricket pitch. Visons of Eddie the Eagle flashed through my mind. I was in awe.
Thinking how lucky I was to witness this in the height of summer I make my way slowly step by step, slope by slope….down the path. Suddenly the jumper runs passed me, back to the cable car, back to the top. Unlike me, he didn’t need to stop for coffee and cake at the café. I rushed to the bottom to get a shot from below. A group of Indian tourists were gathered on the teared seating getting an informative brief from an English speaking, Austrian coach. I stop, and listen in. Discretely of course.
Huge sprinklers spray water droplets into the sky creating rainbows and sparkles like thousands of Swarovski crystals.
As soon as they stop, a tiny speck appears at the top of the jump then soars through the sky. The crowd applauds and break into a clacker of disbelief. The smiling ski-jumper takes time to approach the group, pause for a few quick photos, then its “auf wiedersehen” and back to the top. Me, well, I head down to the next coffee shop. All that exercise and energy has made me exhausted.