Top photo: Soccerball, pixabay.com/ jarmoluk-143740
following the bow wave of two major sport events this summer, namely the EURO soccer championship in France and the Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro, I take the pleasure to present the newest edition of Austrian Information on the lighter theme of “sports:” Leaving aside well-known older or newer sport giants like NHL hockey player Thomas Vanek (Minnesota Wild) or NBA player Jakob Poeltl (Toronto Raptors), we explore a number of – unjustifiably – lesser-known athletes with remarkable Austro-American stories, as well as the history of their sports.
We endeavor to persuade you that Austria is not only a cultural, but also a sports world power – though admittedly, the summer activities are trailing a bit behind the winter sports. Indeed, Austria is and remains the dominating nation in skiing on this planet: Americans had recognized this simple truth fairly early, looking for Austrian ski resort developers, managers and instructors from as early as the 1930s effectively making them the “fathers” of numerous world class ski resorts all over the U.S.
We are scouting these places for you to give you an idea of the tremendous Austrian impact. Another winter sport which may be less on an – Austrianfan’s radar is ice hockey. Nevertheless, Janine Weber from Tirol became the first female player to enroll in the world’s top professional league (WNHL) in 2015; she was even introduced into the “Hockey Hall of Fame” the same year for her decisive goal to win the coveted CWHL Clarkson Cup in Canada and has been successful ever since.
As for summer sports, we are bringing you the history of Austrian soccer, which surprisingly started as a posh bourgeoisie sport in Vienna only to become a working class crowd pleaser; we are recalling the Austrian champion of 1925, the dedicated Jewish team Hakoah, and examine the opposite phenomenon of the traditionally multiethnic Austrian national teams, starting from the legendary “Wunderteam” of the 1930s until today, as a tool and symbol for successful integration of immigrants and their descendants into Austrian society. Furthermore, who would guess that the 103-time Austrian record international Andreas Herzog had been the assistant manager of both the Austrian and the U.S. national soccer teams? In this edition, he shares some insight into his career as well as his current position as coach of the U.S. under 23 national team.
We are also talking to Sarah Zadrazil, a young Austrian national soccer team diamond who has been polished for the last four years at the East Tennessee Buccaneers, earning her accolades like “2016 Southern Conference player of the year!” And to confuse everyone about the diverse meaning of “football” on different continents, we are looking back onto the career of Toni Fritsch, who as a former Austrian national team soccer player (or football as we call it in Europe) switched country and sport to revolutionize the “field kick” in (American) football, scoring a record 21 field goals and winning the Super Bowl VI with the Dallas Cowboys in his first season.
To round up the summer sports, I interviewed Austrian ATPpro Alexander Peya right after his double final, played under a scorching sun at the Citi Open in Washington, D.C In order to properly frame this sport edition of Austrian Information, Ambassador Wolfgang Waldner, who took up office in January 2016, talks about his “back to the future” moment in the U.S. and how to advance bilateral relations; Austrian chef Alexis Trolf is sharing his culinary experience and offerings on Long Beach, NY.; and finally, Austrian Honorary Consul in Cincinnati, OH and lawyer Clem Luken gives an insight into his links to Austria. Enough said: Now relax and enjoy the Austrian Information Sport’s edition at your favorite summer beach!