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Oktoberfest of winter sports TIME ONLINE

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The men printed four wishes at once on the back of their red jackets: "We want beer, mountains, biathlon and party!" The tour group, one of many from all over Germany and the world, also knows where all these wishes are fulfilled.

Welcome to Ruhpolding, welcome to the annual Biathlon World Cup, which ends this Sunday in Upper Bavaria. Framed by mountains, so peaceful and quiet, sprinkled with powdered sugar snow, irradiated by the sun, people shoot and skate here for five days. But it is also celebrated powerfully. Brass music and fun sound right at the entrance. In the Chiemgau Arena, every visitor immediately feels what fans love about biathlon, why this curious, once military competition has become a German popular sport.

Hours before the start of the women's relay race on Friday afternoon, visitors stand in line at the beer and sausage stands. A moderator entertains the guests with quizzes and interviews on a large screen. A DJ who has learned his craft unmistakably in the ski hut or on Mallorca should get them in the mood. The fans of Udo Jürgens and Wolle Petry sway warmly, with Helene Fischer it seems as if the snow is beginning to melt. Happy folders encourage people to sing along, not much. The day feels like all of life is après-ski.

"TV garden" with shooting range

There is no peace even during the race. The athletes run into the stadium for the parade march, the secret hymn of the white and blue Free State. They are greeted with a song that says: "Beautiful women everywhere". That must be the Bavarian charm. Not so long ago, the biathletes were called "shotgun women". When the athletes set out on the track and got out of sight for the spectators at the start, the crowd turned up: Status Quo, Queen and lots of alpine rock. "Hurray, the chamois! Hurray, the girls!"

The stadium management is silent only when shooting, the emotional highlight of the competition. Then the crowd in the standing room behind takes over. This is a mythical place, here Germany finds itself, here Germany finds its center, here it’s a little bit like ZDF-Fernsehgarten,

A spectator with striking red hair waves a German flag in one hand, with the other she moves a wooden ratchet, and on her lips she has a "Hodi odi ohh di ho di eh. Hulapalu, I and you and only the moon is watching" , And: "Breathless, free from vertigo, great cinema for the two of us." Sometimes she sings loudly in a choir with the others, sometimes quietly, enjoying. The biathlon fan doesn't have to be drunk to find these earwigs well, but it does help. Every child knows the most important ritual of the biathlon fans from television: when the German shooter hits and flips the window 50 meters away, a high, joyful "Hey!" Resounds. If the pane remains below, everyone will breathe out loud together. This results in a deep, disappointed "hoooh!"

Biathlon demands a lot from the athletes, and this sound has to be imagined as a special challenge. For comparison: sport shooters carry out their competitions in meditative silence, tennis players should not even be cleared by clearing their throat, let alone shouts. But biathletes, when they unbuckle their rifles and put them on after a strenuous sprint through the cross-country track, not only have to get their pulse down quickly, but also aim and squeeze under the cheers of the crowd.

One wonders that not many people have the idea of ​​turning around with the gun and just … well, we don't want to give anyone any ideas. Magdalena Neuner took action against noise with oropax during her active time.

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