Sunday, September 15, 2013

Berlin Year 7

Entrance to the Park Signage 
It’s hard to believe that we’re now seven years into the mission here in Berlin. Five days of competition! And these guys are getting good. What has struck me is how fast the Europeans have become. Their attention to detail now matches that of North American Challenge competitors.

So, how do the times on the Berlin course compare? I think that the official tower affords a few seconds of benefit. It’s related to the stairs and railings. You don’t have the tight turns and the less complicated railings. I’ll comment about the intricacies in upcoming postings.

This year, the event was moved to the old Tempelof Airport. For the past six years, we’ve been smack in the middle of downtown Berlin. The Potsdamer Platz is a very prestigious location, not unlike Times Square in New York City. But five days is an impossible expectation.

Google Berlin Airlift and you’ll learn about one of the most historic events in 19th Century history. When the Soviets attempted the blockade of West Berlin by closing ground access, the Allies started a sky-train with thousands of C-47’s and kept the city alive with around the clock flights of necessary food and substance material.

The photo below gives some perspective to the vastness of what is now one of the largest city parks in the world, rivaling Central Park in NYC. That’s the terminal you see in the photo below, taken at at the Challenge site, at least 1km away.

Tempelof Airport, site of the terminal of the famous Berlin Airlift of 1948 and presently the location for the FCC
I was offered a private guided tour of the airdrome on Monday, following the event, by the current Park Manager, Dr. Krebs. Unfortunately, I had a meeting in Portugal that inflicted, but will make this up next year, for sure.

Mike Weikhamm who runs the event is a master of organization and a pleasure to work with. One of the benefits of the new venue is the ability for Competitors to “camp out” with their Ezey-Ups for the duration of the event. Of course, they have the same threats of wind gusts to deal with as evidenced by the twisted frames a few days after the shot below was taken.
Tent City at the 7th Berlin Firefighter Combat Challenge 

The view from the top of the tower is very similar to that of what you’d expect to see at any of our events. We’re working on getting Mike a supply of All-American hose to complete the transformation to the exact same props is are used in the U.S.

View from the top of the tower - 7th Berlin Firefighter Combat Challenge 

World Challenge in the Future?
Americans get a lot of ribbing about the World Series, or other such nomenclature. First, understand that the baseball championship was originally sponsored by the World newspaper- hence the name that really had nothing to do with geography and everything to do with who was footing the bill. In our case, we are very much interested in a global reach. 

You’ve noticed a growing number of competitors coming from far-off places around the globe. Of course, around the time the Chinese decide to play, they’ll erect an exact replica and win the whole thing the next year. 

I can’t say when for sure, but I do see the Firefighter Combat Challenge gaining a lot of traction in Europe with the likely “World Cup” moniker taking place in a venue like Berlin.