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Toni Innauer’s house number in the FIS Museum Damüls

A hint of the renowned Walk of Fame for the Damüls FIS Ski Museum. Toni Innauer unveiled his “house number”.

The International Ski Club had a good reason for adding the title FIS to the Ski Museum in Damüls vicarage two years ago, for Bregenzer Christian Lingenhöle’s collection constitutes a fascination documentation of skiing, and one which is being constantly updated and enriched with new exhibits.

To take an example: recently some very special racing skis arrived in Damüls, used by retired superstar Marcel Hirscher for his “skiing in colour” display. Every time he touched one of the slalom poles during this race he set off a cloud of colour – red, yellow, blue – leaving coloured marks on his clothing and on the skis which are now housed in this museum.

Hardly less spectacular is another exhibit which has now adorned the entrance for several days. From the “Street of Champions”, which was established in the Mariahilfer Strasse in Vienna at the beginning of the 1990s, and which was a take on the Walk of Fame in Los Angeles, Toni Innauer’s commemorative plaque Ehreis also now in Damüls. During the unveiling ceremony Toni Innauer was not the only one to experience some emotional moments.  Günter Kaufmann and Udo Albl as “fathers” of the Bezau ski jumper’s career, also enjoyed reliving that serendipitous Sunday in early January 1971.

At that time Toni had wanted to go to a downhill test race with his trainer Günter Kaufmann, but his friend Günter declined. “Not today” he told his protégé, whose subsequent defiant actions were momentous: the ski jumper from Bezau got into the other bus instead, and went to the Nordic National Championships....

On the Pfänder he had a convincing win on slalom skis and came away with the champion’s title in the schools category. Officials wanted to stop him competing in the youth category (on the big jump), because A he was too young (under 13 years of age) and B no participant had ever skied off the big jump wearing slalom skis with safety bindings. After a long discussion in which Udo Albl, himself an active participant in the Championships, enthusiastically stood up for the youngster being allowed to compete, Tonı was allowed out onto the boards. And won the youth category hands down!

A couple of weeks later at the “Austrian” Championships the same thing happened again. Innauer had to fight for his right to compete, and landed in second place. The reason behind his taking part was the result of a daring bet, as he told everyone while he was looking round the museum. He also corrected Christian Lingenhöle’s description: “Excuse me, but these skis you have here in the museum are the ones that I used for the national championships – they have a different binding and heel release to the Pfänder skis”. The skis on display in the museum are supposed to be those from the Pfänder. “The ski is the right one, but the binding and the heel release came later.”

In spite of this the Olympic champion signed his skis and symbolically received an Ullr medal in recognition. In Nordic mythology Ullr is the god of winter, and is widely recognised as a talisman by winter sports competitors.

A society for the museum
The unveiling of the commemorative plaque was the key to the foundation of the “Vicarage Museum Society – Friends of the Vorarlberg FIS Ski Museum Damüls because, as the mayor Stefan Bischof put it, “we want to support in his work and to establish the museum on a wider basis”At the inaugural meeting he was unanimously voted chairman.   The founder of the museum is now assisted by a team of volunteers.

Author: Peter Strauss,
VN Heimat Bregenzerwald dated 26th September 2019

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