Going skiing in Kühtai over the next few weeks? Don’t be shocked if you see a flurry of cameras, skiers launching themselves off 45m jumps and maybe even the odd familiar face. Yes, British reality TV show The Jump is back — and with it a flood of celebrities have arrived in the Austrian Tirol.
“Is that Bradley Wiggins?”, I asked my husband as we queued up at Kühtai’s DreiSeen chairlift in mid-January, squinting at a figure in the distance. “What, the cyclist guy? Why would he be in a ski resort?”, he replied, his voice full of scepticism. We found the answer about three minutes later, in the form of a colossal park carved out of the snow, where we see a few figures peering nervously over the top of a high jump. The penny dropped: “Ahhh, they’re training for The Jump.”
British TV show The Jump has been using the Austrian Tirol as its base since it started in 2014. Every year, it brings a new slew of celebrities to the Innsbruck area, pitting them against each other in a variety of winter sports including parallel slalom, skeleton and bobsleigh. Each episode climaxes in a “jump off”, with the weakest competitors launching themselves off a ski jump the size of three double-decker buses. The celebrity with the shortest jump is eliminated.
It’s no easy feat. Many of the celebrities had never even put on skis before signing up for the show, let alone flung themselves off a 45m jump in front of a roaring crowd with a bunch of cameras broadcasting their flops and flails to the rest of the UK.
The past four years have seen dozens of celebrities flock to the Tirol to take part, including five-time Olympic gold medallist Sir Steve Redgrave, Tour de France winner Sir Bradley Wiggins and Jackass star Steve-O. This year, you might bump into former England football player Robbie Fowler, model Caprice or Olympic gymnast Louis Smith.
The Channel 4 show is filmed in and around Innsbruck; with the contestants staying in the city’s swankiest hotel, the 5* Grand Hotel Europa. But the jump off itself takes place in Kühtai, the high-altitude resort just 45 minutes from Innsbruck city centre. It’s the perfect place to host the show — just 45 minutes from the centre of Innsbruck, all of it’s slopes are above 2,000m mean guaranteed snow December to April. I couldn’t resist going there to see one of the live shows. And happily enough, watching the show is free — there’s even a free shuttle bus from Innsbruck to Kühtai.
Arriving on a cold February night, the atmosphere was buzzing thanks to a bar, oompah band and dancing crowd. Free Glühwein kept the chill out as I watched the reality TV show star Spencer Miller, rugby player Jason Robinson and comedian Mark Dolan launch themselves off a 32m ramp. While it wasn’t exactly Olympic standard ski jumping — far from it — it was amazing to think that these people had only been training for a few weeks. It also felt strangely surreal to be watching a bunch of celebrities hurtle off a jump in front of cameras halfway up a mountain. It’s not your typical Tirolean experience but it is worth seeing, at least once.
The live final of The Jump will be filmed in Kühtai on March 12 and attending it is free. The tour includes two free hot drinks per person and free entry to The Jump arena and live show, plus return travel to Innsbruck. A free shuttle bus will leave from the Ibis Hotel Innsbruck on Sterzinger Strasse, beside the main train station, at 6.15pm. Places will be allocated on a first come, first served basis and you can find more information here.