They sounded tired, race director Sandro Pertile and general secretary Florian Stern. Pertile had discussed FIS for the World Ski Federation, Stern represented the organization in Oberstdorf. Both telephoned and debated late into the night, and again in the morning. The waves hit high at the Four Hills Tournament, it was about a fundamental question, namely what is formally correct – and what is actually fair. There is always something new, said Pertile: “It’s also part of normal life.”
But what was announced in Oberstdorf that morning was not just some new detail, but a real premiere in the process. For the first time, with the Poles, a team was initially completely excluded and then brought back on board. For this, an already valid qualification was canceled, which had never happened before. It was based on one of the more difficult Corona decisions in sport, which is also popular because there is always clarity, someone wins, someone is unlucky.
But this case of the Poles was complicated. Klemens Muranka, a rather average jumper, had initially tested positive, and not only he, but the entire team was excluded – in accordance with the corona regulations. Then they tested again and the entire Polska team turned out to be negative, too late, the qualification was already under way. The next morning, a third test again confirmed negative results for all seven Polish jumpers. It was already Tuesday, the day of the actual jumping.
Pertile, Stern and the other tour organizers quickly agreed that Plan B would now take effect. A kind of quick rescue operation that had been conceived that night. And because the decisive authority, the Oberallgäu health department, indirectly recommended this with the immediate lifting of the quarantine, for the first time in the history of the tour, seven jumpers, including Murankas, were allowed to attend an exclusive training session on the hill on the day of the competition. The afternoon competition rounds should begin as in the World Cup, i.e. without a knockout mode. In addition, small questions arose, for example: Is the winner of the later canceled qualification actually allowed to keep his winner’s check?
The fact that the tour was deviating from the knockout mode was definitely nothing new, mostly stormy weather was to blame, this time the wind blew in the figurative sense. In Poland, the media and sports politicians raised the mood against the exclusion, and the tour received an official request from the Polish Consulate General in Munich. This only wanted information, explained Pertile, but there is also an intention behind every innocent request. And so the question remains whether this decision was also due to sport-political, perhaps even marketing-tactical reasons. This is a “special case”, said Stern, because of course you don’t want your athletes to be freed until they are finally negative. Here, however, given the fact that 14, 15 people would be affected because of a test, and in general given the “scope of the case”, the situation is different.
The ski jumping competition welcomed the resumption of the Poles. National coach Stefan Horngacher explained that the Poles are “one of the strongest nations and the best should simply jump in”. And Pertile agreed: “We work for sport and its values,” he said, and: “In sport, the best should always win.” On the one hand, this is true, Kamil Stoch, Dawid Kubacki and Piotr Zyla are among the extended circle of favorites, which is why it also seems unlikely that, for example, the small Estonian team would have been brought back into the competition as consistently.
Of course you want to learn from this situation, the stress of the past two days and the pressure to justify yourself. Sports organizer Florian Stern carefully considered trying a double test at the next major Nordic event in the market town of Oberstdorf, namely at the World Cup from February 23rd. And Pertile also suggested similar considerations that one wanted to integrate the findings into the next case.
The question of Philipp Aschenwald’s prize money remained. Since there is now no longer any official Oberstdorf qualification, the reason to pay a reward has disappeared. Aschenwald is currently in moderate form, but had a good day, which means that he jumped his best distance early on. So he stood and froze for a particularly long time in the leader box, but that didn’t officially take place either. No, it shouldn’t be like that, but Sandro Pertile explained: “The best should always keep his wages.” This realization is also part of normal life.