• Germany's news in English
 
app_header_v3

Sochi's youngest hope - German ski jumper, 15

The Local · 30 Jan 2014, 17:08

Published: 30 Jan 2014 17:08 GMT+01:00

Ernst will be the youngest competitor at the Sochi Winter Olympics, which start on February 6th, after winning a silver medal at the World Cup in Norway last year.

The schoolgirl scored 270 points with a 97-metre leap in December, earning a place on the podium and with it a chance to compete in the Winter Olympics in Russia.

But despite her World Cup victory, Ernst was almost denied the chance to compete.

The teenage talent turned 15 on December 31st - only a few hours later and her ticket to Russia would have been invalid, as athletes must be 15 or older in 2013 to participate.

Ernst was still only 14 when she made the leap on to the podium at the World Cup last year.

She started in tenth place, but quickly moved up to fourth position after the first round and kept her focus in the finals to take second place.

Now the teenage athlete is part of the squad carrying Germany’s medal hopes to the Winter Olympics.

“Of course I’m delighted to reach the podium at my first World Cup. I’m so happy,” Ernst told n-tv back in December.

Yet she remains remarkably relaxed about her own success. “It’s kind of my job. I’ve been doing it since I was five years old,” she said after her silver medal win.

And success on the slopes is something of a family routine.

CLICK HERE for The Local's Sport section

Her father, Joachim Ernst, was a famous ski jumper who won the World Championships in 1982 in Oslo, where he also met Gianina's mother, Cornelia, at the time a champion cross-country skier.

The couple have six children, two of which – Gianina and her elder brother Benjamin – take part in ski jumping competitions.

Joachim has always been his daughter’s main trainer, but she now also attends a sports school to help her develop her talent.

Ernst lived her early life in Oberstdorf, Switzerland, with dual Swiss-German nationality.

She had her first taste of fame after winning the Swiss championships at the age of 12, but in June 2013 she decided to change sides and join the German team.

The side includes several young female stars who are hoping to reach the Olympic podium.

The coach of the national squad Andreas Bauer, 51, has been impressed by the star’s ability to stay calm under pressure.

“I saw a number of good jumps from her in training, but the coolness and composure she showed at the championship were not a given,” he told broadcaster ARD.

Bauer would like to see more recognition of the skills of these female athletes. Women ski jumpers compete from the same height as men and often travel further, due to their smaller size and slighter build.

“We are moving forward bit by bit. The level of skill has really improved and there have been great developments in technique,” Bauer told the Süddeutsche Zeitung. “A bit more attention would be nice, though.”

But Bauer is aware that, for Ernst, too much attention could be damaging. “We will have to protect her, so she is not overwhelmed,” he said.  

As for the athlete herself, it would seem that her talent for flight has not stopped her staying grounded. “I want to keep being who I am,” Ernst told n-tv after her silver medal in December. 

Frances Foley

READ MORE: Ski championships called off as snow fails to fall

For more news from Germany, join us on Facebook and Twitter.

The Local (news@thelocal.de)

Your comments about this article

Today's headlines
Dresden 'most woman-friendly’ city in Germany
Photo: DPA.

Sorry Berlin, you're not the most progressive city for women, according to a new report.

The future belongs to these 10 German regions
This east German city won the 'most improved' category. Photo: DPA

A new study shows that one city above all will dominate the future of Germany, but if you're canny you might still want to think about moving to Leipzig or Erfurt.

Fugitive ex-terrorists 'on huge crime spree' in north Germany
(L-r): ex-RAF members Volker Staub, Daniela Klette, and Burkhard Garweg. Photo: BKA

In their struggle against capitalism they once murdered businessmen and politicians. Now three ex-terrorists have taken to robbing supermarkets - and rather successfully, too.

Scooter singer finally reveals how much the fish cost
H.P. Baxxter. Photo: DPA

It is the question Germans have wanted to know the answer to for almost two decades - and now they have the answer, thanks to a US talkshow host.

'I'm definitely not a paedophile': disgraced MP
Former MP Sebastian Edathy is in hiding after a child pornography scandal destroyed his career. Photo: DPA

Former MP Sebastian Edathy quit his job and left Germany after videos of naked children were found on his computer.

Weekend promises storms, humidity - and a bit of sun
A storm in Cuxhaven last weekend. Photo: DPA

The forecast for the coming days isn’t the pristine blue skies many of us are longing for. But, in among the storms, the sun will still peek out.

Prosecutors take aim at unedited Hitler book
An original edition of 'Mein Kampf' featuring a photo of Hitler on an inside cover. Photo: DPA

German prosecutors said on Thursday they were investigating whether to bring charges against a publisher who has promised to print a version of Adolf Hitler's anti-Semitic manifesto "Mein Kampf" without annotations.

VW bets on battery factory for electric car dominance
A VW logo is seen in front of a plugged-in electric car. Photo: DPA

Scandal-hit car giant Volkswagen is set to sink huge sums into building a factory for batteries to power its future electric cars, German media reported on Friday.

Raging ticket controller seizes Chinese traveler's passport
File photo of a plainclothes ticket controller. Photo: DPA.

Germany's national rail operator is in hot water after a ticket controller reacted aggressively to a newly arrived Chinese traveler who made one of the most basic transit mistakes: forgetting to stamp her ticket.

Berlin politician crusades for health of skateboarding dog
File photo: DPA

Can a canine enjoy skateboarding? That's the question Berlin politicians are struggling to address in a row over a dog on four wheels.

Sponsored Article
Eat, learn, live: unforgettable holidays in France
Society
Pegida enraged by black children on chocolate bars
Health
New father's tragic herpes warning touches 1000s online
National
Monsanto takeover would be 'diabolical': environmentalists
Lifestyle
10 fascinating facts you never knew about Berlin
Politics
MP recites explicit Erdogan bestiality poem on live TV
National
China beats Germany in readiness to help refugees
Hamburg
Headless Lübeck corpse turns out to be discarded sex doll
National
Pensioner claims to have found hidden Nazi nukes
Business & Money
Here's why Munich is worth 20 times more than Berlin
Culture
Five sure-fire ways to impress Germans with your manners
Lifestyle
6 things about Munich that will stay with you forever
Technology
Church plans to connect with faithful at Wi-Fi 'Godspots'
Technology
Online hate speech can cost users thousands of Euros
Society
Bavarians in rush for non-lethal weapons licenses
Sport
Here's Germany's Mannschaft for Euro 2016
Culture
The Syrian pianist playing his way into Germans' hearts
The parrot who flew fast enough to trigger a speed camera
Technology
New law could let free Wi-Fi bloom across Germany
Politics
Berlin's plans to beef up the German army
Sport
Lufthansa's Euro 2016 ad takes aim at England
National
Supermarkets must pay massive fine for fixing beer prices
National
4/20: Five things to know about weed in Germany
Berlin
Police break up hipster swarm at vegan restaurant opening
7,841
jobs available
Toytown Germany
Germany's English-speaking crowd