In Poland, ski jumping has an enormous fan following and therefore evokes high emotions just as football would in Spain. This is why we can even call it a ‘national sport’ in Poland. The distinguishing factor that makes Polish fans is the atmosphere. Their loyalty, humor and disposition during the sport is unique, but maybe that is just my experience since I am Polish after all 😉
It is for good reason ski jumping is so popular in Poland. It’s one of the few sports where we always achieve spectacular results.
Everything started when Wojciech Fortuna won the gold medal in the 1972 Olympic Winter Games in Sapporo (the fifth largest city of Japan by population, that hosts an annual Sapporo Snow Festival). Although, some believe, the real craziness started when Adam Malysz took the podium momentum in the late 90’s. I remember this moment like it was yesterday. There wasn’t a Polish family that wasn’t in front of their television. Our entire nation watched every detail with anticipation and awe. Needless to say that emotions and tension were high when the final score was revealed for all to see. Those days homework had to be done before 2 PM and lunch had to be prepared and eaten before the tournament would begin.
“Małyszomania” (craziness about Adam Małysz, a Polish ski jumper) had a second bigger meaning in Poland, during the late 90’s when the economy was still weak: we needed a national hero to symbolize achievement to motivate us after the difficult communist time.
However ski jumping is an official sport. It is a niche sport practised only in 20 countries such as Austria, Germany Norway, Poland and Japan. According to Wikipedia: “The ski jumping venue, commonly referred to as a hill, consists of the jumping ramp (in-run), take-off table, and a landing hill. Each jump is evaluated according to the distance traveled and the style performed. The distance score is related to the construction point (also known as the K-point), which is a line drawn in the landing area and serves as a “target” for the competitors to reach. The score of each judge evaluating the style can reach a maximum of 20 points.
Every year ski jumpers can take part in the FIS Ski Jumping World Cup organized in Poland, in Zakopane (ski jump Wielka Krokiew) and in Wisła (ski jump Adam). It’s the world’s highest level of ski jumping and the FIS Ski Flying World Cup as the sub divisional part of the competition.
The most unique thing that distinguishes ski jumping in Poland from other countries is it’s amazing fans. You can see it whenever the tournament is being organised in Wisła or Zakopane (the biggest Polish city in the direct surrounding area of Tarty mountains). Every year a crowd of Polish fans, from the farest places in the country come despite the very low temperature to cheer on their idols. Even the Poles living abroad come for this special weekend.
This year, on the 20th of January I joined my family that cheered ferociously and in temperatures of -7 we bravely supported the Polish ski jumpers in hopes they would win their individual tournament. Unfortunately this time they didn’t achieve good scores, but loyal Polish fans didn’t stop believing in them. And this is why I admire the fans so much! They have so much empathy that ski jumpers and fans from other countries envy so much. We even cheer on our competitors as in the end it’s all about having fun!
This is why it’s worth standing 7 hours in cold with the sound of the loud trumpet that sometimes even drowns out the announcer of the ski jumper’s results. But these are the moments we live for!
What to wear?
Super warm! If you want to stand in the first row you have to be prepared to wait in front of the even gate as early as 11 a.m. The gate opens to welcome its fans at 1 p.m. The best way to dress is like an onion! It’s important to wear thermal clothing. You can buy some good clothing options in stores such as Decathlon or many other online vendors. I recommend the Brubeck brand. It’s also good to wear a ski suit. But the most important are shoes/boots! They have to be waterproof! I personally bought Moonboots and they passed the test many times! 🙂
When and where to buy tickets?
Tickets are normally available for purchase in the summertime, around mid-August.
You can buy them on https://www.shop-tzn.pl/bilety-puchar-swiata-skoki-zakopane – it’s the official web page of Tatra Ski Federation, the organiser of FIS Ski Jumping World Cup in Zakopane
Ticket prices (in 2019)
sector C,D (standing) – 80 PLN (around 20 EUR)
sector A,B (standing) – 90 PLN (around 23 EUR)
sector T with seats – 300 PLN (This sector is in front of the standing sector with the best view on the ski jump)
There are no discounts available
You can also buy tickets through: https://www.alebilet.pl/bilety/puchar_swiata_w_skokach_narciarskich_zakopane_2019
How to get to there?
- You can fly to Krakow Airport and later take a train to Zakopane
- A bus number 11 will take you to the ski jump Wielka Krokiew. The closest bus stop is called Przystanek Rondo Jana Pawła II
Where to eat?
In Zakopane there are plenty of good restaurants, that serve good grilled food. You can find them on the main street called Krupówki.
You should try:
– Grilled cheese from sheep milk with cranberry (very popular, especially in the Polish mountains)
– Polish cuisine: pierogi, placki ziemniaczane
– For dessert I strongly recommend the Polish donuts called pączki
For any other recommendations visit> tripadvisor.
I always book my trips on booking.com. In Zakopane I recommend Bambi Cottage!