Meet Karl Geiger: Ski jumping’s serene high flyer

In a sport known for its high stakes, sharp inclines and colourful personalities, German ski jumper Karl Geiger is as level-headed as they come, even as his successes begin to pile up. 

5 min By Chloe Merrell
Karl Geiger of Germany celebrates third place during the Men's Ski Jumping HS137 at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships
(Picture by 2021 Getty Images)

Serenity – that indescribable feeling between bliss and tranquillity - is what ski jumping star Karl Geiger takes aim for when he leaps into the cold, winter skies.

For someone who lists another adrenaline-filled sport in paragliding as his hobby away from the snow, the 28-year-old is a surprisingly calm individual.

While his opponents catch themselves in competitive stands offs, the current Ski Flying World Champion takes a much more measured approach to his sport and his rivals. This is typified by the fact arguably his fiercest rival, compatriot Markus Eisenbichler, is one of his closest friends.

Geiger is also a new father, a qualified engineer, and knows how to get creative in order to stay ahead of the game.

As the 2021/2022 FIS ski jumping season gets into full swing, get to know the man behind the athlete, who is inching his way into ski jumping’s top echelons.

READ MORE: Top things to know about the 2021/2022 ski jumping season

Karl Geiger: patiently engineering his way to success

There are few sights more magical than a ski jumper suspended in mid-air.

But for qualified engineer Geiger, who has a degree in energy and environmental studies, it is instead a lesson in science.

The German, who is actually nicknamed “The Engineer” and “Mister Reliable” by those closest to him, is renowned for employing a methodical and disciplined approach to his ski jumping.

While the likes of Norwegian prodigy Halvor Egner Granerud seemingly exploded onto the ski jumping scene out of nowhere, Geiger has been quietly and consistently plugged away.

His track record at the prestigious Four Hills Tournament best illustrates his meandering journey towards the sports’ most revered podiums. From a 59th-place finish in 2012/2013 to 11th in 2018/2019, and then third and second in the past two seasons, Geiger has improved with experience.

Speaking to BR24 in an interview, the **PyeongChang 2018** silver medallist revealed how he makes notes on his phone after every competition: “I look up which mistakes keep coming back. It repeats itself in certain loops. What have I done to get out of there? I then try to figure it out to learn. Every day is new.”

Collecting data and studying it is one way to get ahead, but it’s not the only problem-solving that Geiger is doing.

After a successful 2020/2021 season that saw him clinch several titles including three World Cup wins, he installed a trampoline in his parents’ home in Oberstdorf to refine his technique even further.

Karl Geiger after his second jump in the 2020-21 Four Hills opener at Oberstdorf

Karl Geiger: ski jumping's iceman

Geiger's laser-focused mental outlook is renowned at competitions.

The German simply shuts himself off from the rest of the world: “I go into tunnel,” Geiger told ispo.com, “And when it matters, I press it and attack at full throttle.”

The ice cool calmness he exudes on the hill does not go unnoticed by those around watching him. National coach Stefan Horngacher praised his athlete’s character traits: “What Karl does is extraordinary. He does not pretend. He is what he is.”

Legendary German ski jumper Sven Hannawaldshared with BR24, “I think he [Geiger] doesn’t even notice whether it’s snowing or windy.”

Karl Geiger and Markus Eisenbichler: more than rivals

Another mark of Geiger’s collected personality is his relationship with Eisenbichler, another great German ski-jumping talent.

In 2020/2021, the two locked horns regularly in completion, vying for the number one spot.

When Geiger finished sixth in the World Cup overall standings, his 30-year-old compatriot finished in second behind crystal ball winner Granerud. However, at the Ski Flying World Cup, Eisenbichler ended up in third with Geiger in first.

Despite this rivalry, away from the hills the two are close friends; they sometimes even share a double room at competitions.

“We have got to know each other pretty well over the years, we know exactly what makes the other person tick and what they need,” Eisenbichler shared in a joint interview with Geiger to Kicker. “We never stand in each other's way in the room, and we also don't argue. Even though we are competitors.”

The two, like any good friends, are also not afraid to call each other out, especially when it comes down to who is the messiest:

“Everyone has their own order. Eisei is extremely neat. He would like to sort and categorise everything,” Geiger says before Eisenbichler jumps in to clarify, “Karl is clearly the sloppier one. In the room I have my side, where everything is neat and tidy. Everything has its place. Karl's principle of order is rather: the main thing is that it is there. I'll let him do that too, as long as he doesn't mess up my order, he can do it as he wants.”

The ski jumping competition at Beijing 2022 Winter Olympic Games will run from February 5 to February 14. Find the schedule for the competition here.

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