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30 April 2021 | in Winter FISU World University Games, FISU Athletes

[video] Daniela Iraschko-Stolz: Two-time Winter Universiade champion and women’s ski jumping trailblazer

With our FISU staff currently on-site to visit the next potential candidate for the 2025 FISU World University Games, we would like to highlight through this FISU Legends episode, a two-time Winter Universiade winner in ski jumping: Daniela Iraschko-Stolz. She later gained even more recognition in her sport thanks to her silver medal at the Olympics Games. As she prepared high atop the normal hill at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, it quickly became evident that the experience would not only be a career-defining moment, but also a historic and memorable evening for all of women’s ski jumping.

 

Having been rejected by the International Olympic Committee for inclusion at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics, the highly determined Austrian athlete and her fellow women’s ski jumpers relished their long-awaited opportunity on the Olympic stage.

 

“It was really, really great – it was such an important moment for women’s ski jumping,” Iraschko-Stolz tells Brian Pinelli in the latest edition of the FISU University Legends Interview Series. “We were like a big family with the same goals to get women’s ski jumping into the Olympic Games.”

 

Iraschko-Stolz seized the moment, uncorking a record-breaking 104.5 meter second jump to win a silver medal, a mere 1.2 points behind German gold medalist Carina Vogt.

 

“The second jump was awesome, the landing was not so nice, but I was so happy with the silver medal,” said the talented Austrian ski jumper.

 

However, the highly anticipated competition in Sochi was an enormous victory for all 30 competitors and other female athletes worldwide chasing Olympic dreams.

 

“Since there is World Cup and the sport is now an Olympic discipline, it was such an important step for women’s ski jumping because now I can live with ski jumping,” she said.

 

“Life is brilliant now, because I jumped 20 years without gaining money at all and also had to work. I’m not rich, but I can really live well and that’s fun because it’s my hobby.

Along the journey to the Olympic Games, Iraschko-Stolz gained valuable international experience winning gold medals at both the Innsbruck 2005 and Turin 2007 Winter Universiades.

 

“My studies were close with the first student Olympic Games because I had just finished school before in that summer,” Iraschko-Stolz said, about her time training and studying in Innsbruck. 

 

“It was really a great experience because there were a lot of good Austrian ski jumpers competing and it was a lot of pressure because everyone wanted me to win a gold medal.”

 

While Iraschko-Stolz enjoyed taking flight and winning gold on home snow, she said the overall experience in Turin, two years later, was even more rewarding. 

 

“It was great because in Turin the whole Austrian team had a hotel, Physios, doctors and trainers, and also people from the International Olympic Committee and National Olympic Committee were coming there,” she said.

 

“You also met a lot of other sportsmen and sportswomen. For a student Olympic Games, it had more of an Olympic spirit. You lived like an Olympian there.”

 

Now 37, and wiser because of her Winter Universiade experiences, the well-traveled Austrian ski jumper is still soaring, and soaring far. Iraschko-Stolz, who captured the overall World Cup title in 2015, finished fifth in the 2020-21 standings. Her season highlight was winning gold and bronze medals, respectively, in the women’s team and mixed team events at the Oberstdorf FIS World Championships in late February.

 

With the Beijing 2022 Olympics now within sight, just ten months away, the two-time Olympian says she has no intentions of hanging up her jumping skis anytime soon.

 

“For now, the motivation is really easy because I want to quit ski jumping when I win - I haven’t won in two years, so I have to [keep] competing,” Iraschko-Stolz says, with a smile and laugh.

 

Photos: courtesy of International Olympic Games

Written by BRian Pinelli