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″A short story of a winter sport discipline″

Zbigniew Kulik, 2 marca 2012 09:03

In free translation it means "throwing – shooting with an egg" .
The special throwing plate called “stock” is made of a wooden holder in a form of a hilt which is mounted in the centre of a wooden circle with an iron rim, as you can see at the photographs. The competition was held on natural ice-rinks. This kind of winter sport, as many others, comes from Scandinavia of the 13th century and in that time it was a folk sport. The inhabitants of those terrains “shot with eggs”. The game was played on frozen water reservoirs like lakes, dams and river canals. The first images depicting the game stem from the 16th century from the Netherlands and show the game played on the alpine terrain. It started to develop in two different directions in the second half of the 19th century. In the Anglo-Saxon countries people started to play curling with a bit different rules, and in the alpine countries Eisstockschiessen. The players threw the stock in such a manner, that it stopped as close as possible to a cube situated at the end of a marked ice track. The first sports associations and clubs in which that sport discipline was played were established at the end of the 19th century on the European continent.
In the 1980s a water reservoir at the waterfall on Łomnica in Karpacz was cleaned. It was built in the period of 1910-1915 in order to catch stones, rubble and sand carried by the water from the mountains. The river was crossed with a dam made of granite. Nearby, there was also a natural sleigh and bobsleigh track as well as a band shell and a restaurant „Nad Wodospadem” (At the waterfall). Thanks to that the area became one of the most attractive places in the entire resort at the foot of Śnieżka Peak. When the reservoir was filled with sand and stones, the whole contents was removed and taken out to other place. This situation lasted up to the Second World War. Then the reservoir wasn’t cleaned so thoroughly for decades. Not earlier than in the 1980s the reservoir was cleaned and the leaky dam was sealed. In that very time a well-preserved stock for Eisstockschiessen was found in the sand that was taken away. It proves materially that this sport was played also in Karkonosze.

Since the 1920s an ice-rink with tracks for speed skating was arranged in winter at the dam but you could play here also other kinds of winter sport. The commune supported this great winter attraction and partially financed the ice-rink. The competition in speed skating on ice, hockey matches and Eisstockschiessen were played here. There are some not well known and unique pictures preserved showing the playing of winter sports in this place. The archive materials contain also information that the founder of this town’s first Association of Eisstockschiessen (on 29th January 1929), belonging to “Ice-skating Association Karpacz” in Karkonosze was Henryk Pohl, the owner of a lodge on Śnieżka. The Association’s members met in a nearby restaurant „Nad Wodospadem”. The ice of Łomnica was the venue of many competitions, not only those of local meaning, but also the championships of Silesia and the championships of Germany (in 1930). After the Second World War, in 1949, the Championships of Poland in speed skating on ice was played here. Eisstockschiessen was very popular in the alpine countries. It had the ambition to become another discipline of the Olympic Winter Games. During the fourth Winter Olympic Games in 1936 in the German town of Garmisch Partenkirchen it was a demonstration sport, presented for the first and as it appeared later for the last time!
The competition was played on 9th-10th February 1936 on a nearby Lake Riesser. The opening ceremony was led by the very President of the Organising Committee of the Olympic Games in Gramisch Partenkirchen. And as the entry was free of charge, thousands of spectators viewed the competition. Exactly 52 competitors participated in the game, although they came only from three countries: Austria, Czechoslovakia and Germany. Interestingly enough, there were two events: distance throwing and accuracy throwing. The Austrian Grzegorz Edenhauser “shot with the egg” for the distance of 154,6 m which was the best result! The next player reached a distance 10 m closer, and the one taking the 9th rank a distance 50 m closer! The accuracy throwing was won also by an Austrian, Ignacy Reiterer, who beat a German and a Czech. The Austrian team won in the men’s team ranking. Its players came from Tyrol and more precisely from a small venue called Fügen nearby Mayerhofen. The winners received the olympic medals. I had the opportunity to visit the Regional Museum in Fügen in the Austrian region of Tyrol where one can see such exhibits like old stocks, photographs and a gold medal form the fourth Winter Olympic Games in Garmisch Partenkirchen won by the local team in 1936. The medal wasn’t included in the medal score of the olympic games, for that was only a demonstration competition. Unfortunately the information in the museum does not cover this fact. Important information is that there is an International Federation of Eisstockschiessen (IFE) founded in 1948 with the seat in the German city of Munich which unites sports clubs from the alpine countries. Since 1951 it organizes Europe’s championships and since 1969 European Club Champions’ Cup. We can only regret that Eisschtockschiessen is no longer played in Karkonosze. It would be surely a great attraction for the dwellers as well as for numerous tourists visiting this region.