It was their total eighth time in the Rail Tec wind tunnel in Vienna: the Austrian Nordic Combined team faced the challenge of up to 30 seconds of air time to fine-tune their jumping techniques after a first jumping camp focussed on basic technique earlier this month. Each athlete worked on the optimisation of his flight technique and equipment questions. Wind tunnel training is especially useful as the coach can supervise the flight and give corrections while the athlete is in the air.
Franz-Josef Rehrl: “In a head wind of 130 km per hour, it is very interesting to test new things. I just wanted to get a good feeling in the air and test different options for myself. You can change how you hold your hands or your skis and just test different things. My takeaways this year will stay secret, however.” (laughs)
Head coach Christoph Eugen explains further: “We have been to Vienna for the eighth time in a row now. The training here is really fun and we bring new athletes every time, for who this is a really valuable experience. It is quite exhausting and demands a lot of energy to keep up the tension in the legs in the air during the entire flight period. The flight here takes up to 30 seconds, on a jumping hill it is only 4-6 seconds. But this timeframe enables us to test more things and improve the flight qualities of the athletes.”
For team veteran Bernhard Gruber, a very different challenge was waiting after the training session in Vienna. Gruber travelled straight to his home hill in Bischofshofen to make the inaugural jump on the newly installed inrun track. In typical “Berni”-manner, Gruber was enthusiastic about the experience: “It was an honour for me to make the first jump in the new inrun track on my home hill here in Bischofshofen. I immediately noticed that the tracks accelerated fine. You feel like on tracks and it is a lot of fun to jump, as you can reach bigger distances with less speed now. The hill’s characteristics changed slightly, as the takeoff was raised by 24 cm. You notice this in the flight curve, it’s really nice to jump the hill now.”