My favorite, officially cancelled B.A.S.E. boogie in Austria!
Well this is off to a good start, I thought. Just one day before my departure to Vienna, while being right in the middle of packing my equipment into a suitcase, I received the following e-mail:
„Dear all, Unbelievable but true - authorities in Vienna prohibited the event. We are endless disappointed and sorry for all of you. We can´t believe… No ProBaseWC Event in Vienna!! Cancel your flights or stop the car.“
So not the best of starts to a world cup, especially because it was one I was really looking forward to. So now what? Luckily, a few minutes later another e-mail arrived in my inbox:
„Let us know, if you want to come nevertheless“
Now that sounded much better already. The flight was already booked and the worst case scenario for me was that I would just spent a few days sightseeing in Vienna – could be worse! Luckily for me, 15 out of 55 other jumpers felt the same way. Some of which had even travelled all the way from outside Europe and only found out about the cancellation once they had already arrived. Upon arrival the organizers sat down with the entire group to give us the reasons for the cancellation. We also received t-shirts and merchandise articles we should have been wearing during the competition. Probably more of a sarcastic gesture than anything else…
The organizers had put a lot of work into the planning of this year’s event and were visibly upset about the cancellation of this international sports competition which several TV stations and newspapers were supposed to document and broadcast. The reason was truly uncalled-for and quite laughable. One day before event was supposed to kick off, the authorities came to the realization that according to Austrian air traffic law the minimum opening altitude was 600 meters AGL. (Which is actually true for skydivers jumping out of airplanes) The fact that the Donauturm tower right in the middle of Vienna only has an altitude of 150 meters at which we were to start jumping irritated them so much that they entirely ignored all previous permits. Instead they simply put B.A.S.E. jumping on the same level as skydiving from airplanes and ended up banning the event. However, the event organizers assured us that our trip had not been entirely wasted and were already in search of a backup location to at least limit the damage. The next day we could tell from the newspaper headlines that citizens, media and politicians were outraged about the cancellation which was seen as a huge humiliation for the sports city of Vienna. The decision even had consequences that went further than we had ever imagined: Because of the ban, now the entire sport of ski jumping was put into question as well! Suddenly nobody wanted to be responsible for the decision anymore and nobody wanted to admit mistakes. After all it was just a few weeks to the elections in Austria…
During the next three days we still managed to have a huge amount of fun. The locals tried to show us as many different exit points as possible in the mountains and made us feel like we were touring throughout the entire country of Austria. One evening we received news that a restaurant owner in the neighboring city of Bratislava (his restaurant sat on top of a 90m high bridge pillar inside the city) had heard about the cancellation and kindly offered us to jump off his roof. “What the Austrians can’t do, I can!” he said, and he was true to his word. The location was not suited to host a competition due to the landing area (which was now pointless anyway), but nothing stood in the way of a fun day in Bratislava and some fun jumps.
The final party of the event was still mandatory for everybody who had found their way to Austria. Despite the unfortunate circumstances it was a conciliatory ending for everyone who had taken part in this officially cancelled B.A.S.E. boogie.
A big thanks and much respect to the organizers and Austrian locals for all the work they put into the event. Maybe we’ll have better luck next year…