“It was worse than hell.” This is how the German recalled his stay in Poland

This year it has been 20 years since the memorable events in Zakopane. Adam Małysz won one of the competitions on Polish soil, and his biggest rival, Sven Hannawald, was booed. The fans hated him. A year later, they completely changed their attitude.

David Franek

David Franek

Sven Hannawald

Getty Images / Andreas Rentz / In the photo: Sven Hannawald

In the 2001/2002 season, the World Cup in ski jumping returned to Zakopane after a two-year break. This was of course caused by the phenomenal performances of Adam Małysz on world ski jumps the season before. With the huge increase in the popularity of ski jumping in Poland, no one could have imagined that Zakopane would be missing from the World Cup calendar.

Małysz vs Hannawald

Back then, when the rivalry of the world’s best jumpers was returning to Zakopane, everyone was intrigued by the fight between Adam Małysz and Sven Hannawald. They were the two best jumpers in the field then. Małysz dominated from the beginning of the season and was a favorite at the 50th 4-Hills-Tournament. There, however, the German jumped phenomenally and became the first player in history to win all four competitions of the tournament.

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He did not stop there and also won the next individual competition of the World Cup in Willingen. In Zakopane, he was to fight for victory with Małysz, who was still jumping to the world’s top and, in addition, he was to be carried by Polish fans, and those on January 19 and 20, 2022, there were about 100,000 of them at Wielka Krokiew.

The behavior of Hannawald and his successive wins did not please the Polish fans. The German representative had a very expressive style. He could celebrate his winnings for a long time by waving and jumping in front of the TV cameras. The audience in Zakopane did not like it. She expressed it at Wielka Krokiew. In the first competition, Hannawald took 2nd place, and Adam Małysz was 7th. Then the fans served the German with a huge amount of whistles and insults when he was on the podium.

Malysz’s legitimate nerves

– How can you behave like this? After all, I am respected on all ski jumps – Małysz was nervous then, who won the second competition at Wielka Krokiew.

When the Pole triumphed, Hannawald was also booed at every step. After Sunday’s rivalry, Małysz’s rival said directly: “This competition was worse than staying in hell.”

In the photo: From the left Sven Hannawald and his trainer Reinhard Hess
In the photo: From the left Sven Hannawald and his trainer Reinhard Hess

In turn, many years after this event, Hannawald spoke more broadly in the pages of WP SportoweFakty – I knew, of course, that in a way we were physically separated from the fans by barriers, so that they could not come too close to us, but the whole situation was certainly not pleasant – he said.

In the same season, in the Czech Republic of Harrachov, where the World Ski Championships were held, Małysz’s most formidable rival also had a hard time. In addition to the whistles and insults, the fans also “threw” snowballs at the German champion.

Sudden change

In 2003 Małysz and Hannawald were leading the overall World Cup ranking again. This time the German came to Zakopane with personal protection, but at the same time he was warmly welcomed by Polish fans who realized that they had made a mistake the year before.

Hannawald jumped in Zakopane like inspired, winning twice. On the podium this time, instead of whistles, he received a solid portion of applause. Adam Małysz, in turn, was third in both competitions.

The events from years ago related to the German jumper show that it was not always beautiful in Zakopane. The Poles, however, quickly learned the rooting culture. It was Adam Małysz who contributed to the fact that fans began to respect his great rivals. On the hill they cheered on every jumper and this is the custom in Zakopane to this day.

Also read:
“Shame”, “mockery”. It’s hot after being removed from Zakopane
Unexpected candidate to go to the Olympics ?! Pole fired in training

Watch ski jumping in WP Pilot!

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About David Martin

David Martin is the lead editor for Spark Chronicles. David has been working as a freelance journalist.

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