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GES264 - Sarajevo Winter Olympics, Igman Ski Jumps

While on a tour of the Western Balkans, my girlfriend and I headed up to Sarajevo, city of sorrow. This area of the Balkans suffered heavily during the former Jugoslavia wars in the 1990s. Mostar to the south, and the infamous Srebrenica to the North had their tales of attrocities. The amalgamation of the different countries that make up Jugoslavia had never sat with each other easily. The Olympic Games was an attempt to add unity to the Federal Union by the de facto ruler of Jugoslavia, Marshall Tito. Tito died 4 years before the Olympics, and the uneasy union became ever more uneasy. The Winter Olympics passed without issue, but 7 years later the uneasiness turned to conflict.

The Igman Ski Jumps were built in 1980, the year of Marshall Tito's death. It consists of two slopes, one with a K point of 90m and one of 112m. Not being an expert, I can't tell which is which below. Something to do with the angle of the hill, rather than height or length of the jumps.

At the base of the hill near the car park, is the podium used for medal ceremonies. The Gold for Men was won by Matti Nykänen of Finland for the Large Hill Individual, and Jens Weißflog for Normal Hill Individual.

Unfortunately at the time, i didn't realise the unpleasant history of this spot. During the Jugoslav wars of the 1990s, it was used by the Bosnians for executions. For a time, it looked like this.

A climb up the hill, and I was at the base of the jumps. As this hole area, like much of Bosnia, was fought over during the war. I was somewhat concerned about landmines. The area appeared to have been well trodden since the conflict, however I still kept as close as possible to the path where it was visible.

Steps appeared to be the only way up to the top of the jumps, meaning the skiers had to climb themselves up here, and all their gear.

The inside of the ski jump tower was all bare, a small room sat behind the jump presumably where the jumpers waited to be called. i have done some crazy things during my time, but launching myself down here on some planks is something that would never have happened! The wooden building at the end of the tree line near the bottom of the jump, is the judges building. It was smashed to bits and of little interest to photograph. It was used by the UN troops when trying to keep the Bosnians and Srpska armies apart.

Rails run down steps by the top of the slope. The starting point is above my head here.

I carefully clamboured up the hill some more, and passing piles of broken glass, climbed the other tower. My girlfriend ensconced in the hire car out of harms way. This jump appears a shorter run, but a bigger drop. It's equally terrifying. The podium sits at the bottom like a carrot on a stick.

Not far away is the disused bobsleigh track, but the dark winter nights caught us out, and we didn't make it. We ate a middle eastern meal in the Arab quarter of Sarajevo instead.


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