Ailing ski jumper Schmitt slams scrawny weight allowances

German champion ski jumper Martin Schmitt this week became the latest athlete within his sport to criticise dangerous minimum weight rules following an announcement that he was taking a break due to exhaustion stemming from nutritional deficiencies.

Ailing ski jumper Schmitt slams scrawny weight allowances
Photo: DPA

After earning a disappointing 21st place at the Four Hills Tournament this season, Schmitt said he would not compete in World Cup events for several weeks.

“The fact that I am not fit right now is a result of being at the (lower) limits of my weight for years – one has to walk a tightrope walk to avoid negative effects in jumping,” Schmitt told daily Bild on Tuesday.

The 31-year-old, who has jumped with gold and silver Olympic medal teams, told the paper he would have to gain four kilogrammes to feel healthy again.

“That would be a weight with which I could train well without feeling weak each time,” he said.

On Monday, his coach Werner Schuster had told the television show Blickpunkt Sport that the ski jumper would take the time to get back into form ahead of the Vancouver winter Olympics in February.

At 1.82-metres (six-feet) tall, Schmitt weighs just 63 kilos (138 pounds) and eats just 1,300 calories per day when preparing for competition – about half that recommended for a man of his size, not to mention one participating in vigorous training. But the athlete said that any more weight would make him uncompetitive.

“If this wasn’t my weight, then I wouldn’t jump as far. For example, if I weighed two, three kilos more, I would lose five to six metres in distance. No skier in the world can make up for that,” he said.

Schmitt told the paper that he hoped the International Ski Federation (FIS) would raise their Body Mass Index (BMI) regulations. The current rules, already roundly criticised by Finnish ski jumper Janne Ahonen, stipulate that the height to weight ratio must be 20.0 including a skier’s suit, helmet and shoes. While the FIS has said it plans to increase the low limit to 20.5 next season, Schmitt said they should aim for 21.0.

“Ski jumpers would still be really thin,” he said.

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German tourists among 13 dead in Italy cable car accident

Thirteen people, including German tourists, have been killed after a cable car disconnected and fell near the summit of the Mottarone mountain near Lake Maggiore in northern Italy.

German tourists among 13 dead in Italy cable car accident
The local emergency services published this photograph of the wreckage. Photo: Vigili del Fuoco

The accident was announced by Italy’s national fire and rescue service, Vigili del Fuoco, at 13.50 on Sunday, with the agency saying over Twitter that a helicopter from the nearby town of Varese was on the scene. 

Italy’s National Alpine and Speleological Rescue Corps confirmed that there were 13 victims and two seriously injured people.

Italian daily Corriere della Sera reported that German tourists were among the 13 victims.

According to their report, there were 15 passengers inside the car — which can hold 35 people — at the time a cable snapped, sending it tumbling into the forest below. Two seriously injured children, aged nine and five, were airlifted to hospital in Turin. 

The cable car takes tourists and locals from Stresa, a resort town on Lake Maggiore up to a panoramic peak on the Mottarone mountain, reaching some 1,500m above sea level. 

According to the newspaper, the car had been on its way from the lake to the mountain when the accident happened, with rescue operations complicated by the remote forest location where the car landed. 

The cable car had reopened on April 24th after the end of the second lockdown, and had undergone extensive renovations and refurbishments in 2016, which involved the cable undergoing magnetic particle inspection (MPI) to search for any defects. 

Prime Minister Mario Draghi said on Twitter that he expressed his “condolences to the families of the victims, with special thoughts for the seriously injured children and their families”.

Infrastructure Minister Enrico Giovannini told Italy’s Tg1 a commission of inquiry would be established, according to Corriere della Sera: “Our thoughts go out to those involved. The Ministry has initiated procedures to set up a commission and initiate checks on the controls carried out on the infrastructure.”

“Tomorrow morning I will be in Stresa on Lake Maggiore to meet the prefect and other authorities to decide what to do,” he said.