With success the Klumper Union in Tulfes made a vision become reality. Every fourth year the World Klumper Championship takes place in the lovely village of Tulfes at the border of the Glungezer ski area.
A little excursus about the 1st Klumper world championship in Tulfes:
170 participants registered, almost all of them arrived for the start. What particularly impressed them was the great course and extremely well-organised race sequence.
It was a beautiful winter's day and Tulfes was at its best. Perfect weather and a perfectly groomed piste with a parallel slalom marked out by chief race steward, Manfred Arnold … the overall scene for all those present on the Halsmarter slopes was a very impressive one.
The racing began with only a five-minute delay and right from the start the locals had to swallow a bitter pill. Just a few metres from the finish, the favourite and winner of the pre-world championships, Andreas Arnold, lost control of his klumper and sailed past the finishing post on the wrong side of the track, which is an infringement of the rules and the result is disqualification.
South Tyrolean in top form
The first racers from Olang / South Tyrol - the home of "klumping" - came in with some unbelievable times. They shot down the piste with an almost acrobatic skill and at a breathtaking speed: It was soon quite obvious to the contestants from Tulfes that the Italian opposition were going to be impossible to beat. The local favourites - Fritz Kirchmair, Günter Steger, Hannes Gabmair - were unable to match the incredible performances of the South Tyroleans and could only hope for a miracle in the semi-final and final races. Even the top local klumper riders did not get on well with the piste and an unusually large number of them fell by the wayside because of infringements or falls. Despite the many - in some cases spectacular - falls, the course doctor, Klaus Schweitzer, who kindly took on this important role unpaid, had nothing to do on both days, as thankfully none of the contestants sustained any injuries. The situation for the ladies was better. The world championship title again went to our Olang rivals, but Alexandra Putzer and Barbara Kössler saved Austria's reputation with a superb second and third place.
The first part of the men's results table read as if it was an Italian club championship with all places from 1 to 6 going to our guests from the south. Only Hannes Gambair and René Gaber made it through to the finals and had to be satisfied with places 7 and 8. The flawless style of the klumper boys from Olang was simply too much for the Tulfes team, although everything was tried and many brave attempts by our racers to push it to the limit ended with an infringement. The mood among the - mainly local - spectators, however, remained buoyant, and on the basis of credit where credit is due, the great performances by South Tyrolean racers were generously acclaimed.
The world championships party began in a packed club-house with the award ceremony starting on the dot at 20.00. Chair Maria Gaber used her address to thank the many helpers and then paid her respects to the South Tyroleans with the words: "My God, today you really showed us where the klumper came from". Then the prizes for children and teenager races were awarded. Mayor Josef Gatt's speech also paid tribute to the neighbours from the south and then became unusually emotional when he started talking about the World Klumper Championships. "I am very proud to be the mayor of a town that stages a world championship." He then thanked Tulfes' klumper club under the direction of Maria Gaber for her hard work organising the championship. She received many generous plaudits from way beyond the confines of Tulfes. Then came the highlight of the evening, the awarding of the medal to the world champion. Rankings 7 and 8 won prizes, whereas 6 to 1 won cash and prizes. Mayor Josef Gatt, Fritz Kopriva from Galbani and Martin Reiter, Tiroler Versicherung's marketing director, presented the medals. Frenzied cheering throughout the club-house greeted the arrival on the podium of the women's world champion, Christiane Jud. And the mood as the Italian national anthem was played and the spectators rose from their seats was also emotional.
As men's world champion received his award things really took off. The boys from South Tyrol were enthusiastically applauded by all present. The winner, Wolfgang Jud, was visibly moved. Once again, everyone rose to their feet as the Italian national anthem was played.
After this undoubtedly dignified award ceremony, the group XDREAM from Upper Austria kept the atmosphere upbeat with some extraordinarily good music and skilful performances. A big thank you to band-leader Hannes and sound engineer Helmut for their contribution, and that includes the sound volume. Another of the evening's highpoint was the appearance at 22.30 of the Volderer Muller, a traditional 60-man band which fired up the spectators into a frenzy. Our foreign guests were totally amazed. We should not forget the two fire dancers who performed around midnight. Everyone was greatly impressed and the spectacle deservedly received rapturous applause. All in all, the world klumper championships were undoubtedly the highlight of 2006 in Tulfes. Many visitors saw our village at its best and must have taken many enduring memories home with them. The event organisation was beyond reproach, everything from the issuing of starting numbers to the closing of the bar in the early hours of the morning went like clockwork, and that is only possible if an exceptionally good team is working together with total commitment. Once again all praise to the Klumper club for organising this fantastic event.
Text: Helmut Kohler
Local hero triumphed for the first time at the second Klumper World Cup
The Klumper World Cup was held for the second time on 6 February 2010, with a flurry of these unique toboggans hurtling downhill. Over 100 participants battled for the top positions in some closely-fought parallel slalom duels. Austria took the Ladies’ World Championship title. Bianca Schweitzer made the organiser’s dream of World Championship victory come true with an overall final time of 38.56 seconds. Thomas Mutschlechner from South Tyrol was the World Klumper Champion in the men’s final with an overall time of 36.68 seconds.
Over 100 Klumper fans descended on Tulfes in the Hall-Wattens region, where the World Championships were being contested for the second time. Athletes from Austria, France, Germany, Italy, Czech Republic and New Zealand fought thrilling duels despite heavy snowfall, reaching breathtaking speeds of around 70 km/h on the parallel slalom.
While all titles went to participants from South Tyrol at the first World Championships in 2006, Bianca Schweitzer secured the top spot in the ladies’ event this year in Tulfes. Strong South Tyrolean performers Christiane and Katrin Jud took second and third places in the ladies’ championship, while Alexander Jud and Markus Hofer, also from Italy, took second and third in the men’s event. Sandra Rohr from Germany took sixth spot. The origins of the Klumper The idea for the Klumper originally came from neighbouring South Tyrol. On a visit to the 1972 World Luge Championships in Olang in South Tyrol, a group from Tulfes came across the “Rennböckele”, a type of toboggan with a single blade. It consisted of an iron rail attached to the underside of the main plank, with a wooden seat fixed diagonally to it. The visitors from Tulfes were keen tobogganists and decided to construct their own version. They replaced the iron blade with a short ski and decided to call it a “Klumper”, as they could no longer remember the original name. Tulfes Klumper Club (Klumperverein Tulfes) was established and held its first championships. The club currently has over 100 enthusiastic members, and the annual Klumper race attracts an average of 70 participants. Weekly Klumper fun for locals and visitors Visitors can learn the art of klumping in Tulfes, even if the World Cup has finished. Experienced professional Klumpers provide an introduction to the sport once a week. In winter 2009/10, klumping takes place every Thursday at 20:00 at the valley station of the Glugenzerbahn mountain railway. Countless fans and riders make their way to the floodlit practice area and are always amazed at how quickly and easily they can learn the art of klumping. Simply sit on the Klumper, take it for a few runs and you are perfectly qualified for the race held at 21:00. And the best thing of all is that you don’t need to be a top athlete. Children, parents and even grandparents take part in the thrilling descent and show their newly acquired skills in slalom racing. Everyone can take part for a small entry fee (€3.60 for adults, €1.80 for children). Everyone who takes part in the visitor’s race receives a small wooden Klumper and a certificate as a souvenir. You can also warm up in the cosy cabin with a glass of mulled wine and discuss your riding style and cornering techniques with the professional Klumpers.