Behind the scenes of Seefeld 2019: The police

27. February 2019

They are the men and women behind the scenes who ensure the safe and smooth running of the World Championships: up to 400 officials are on daily duty at Seefeld 2019. We were allowed to take an exclusive look into the “holy halls” of the operations centre and learn more about the work of the police.

We’re visiting the OC at Reith near Seefeld. Operations Commander Gerhard Niederwieser gives us an insight into their daily work during the World Championships. “So far we are completely satisfied with the course of the World Championships in Seefeld,” he reveals. Between 200 and 400 officers are on daily duty, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. 

The police has many different responsibilities. “Our work ranges from large-scale traffic services and traffic information to everything else at the event location. We manage the flow of visitors, including stadium filling and emptying. Every day there a total of around 25,000 visitors with Innsbruck City and Seefeld combined, with the day’s events and in the evening. We have to make sure that there are no bottlenecks or personal injuries. Here we work closely with the private security service of the organizer, the cooperation works excellently. In addition, the venues must be regularly searched for explosives, hazardous substances and so on. Another area is the criminal police area: VIPs, celebrities and royalty such as the Swedish and Norwegian King and Queen must be given personal protection.”. But World Championships or not: “Of course, normal operations also run in parallel. It is important that all other areas also function as smoothly as always, for example the normal commuter traffic.”

The biggest challenge: The weather

Actually, the weather could hardly have been more perfect: Most of the time the sky is blue and the temperatures are warm. A blessing for the fans – but not for the police. “The weather was almost too good, because it was too warm for the parking lots,” reveals Josef Schreier, official head of operations and deputy district governor. The parking lots that had been set up before were flooded by the melting snow, so that they were no longer usable. “The biggest challenge was to create replacement parking spaces.” But this challenge was also mastered well: an alternative parking space was quickly found. “We are confident that the parking spaces we currently have will be sufficient,” says Schreier.

“The fans are very creative!“

“Have there been many incidents at the World Championships in Seefeld?” we ask curiously. The opposite is the case – it is a peaceful and atmospheric WSC. “There were a few drunks,” Josef Schreier reveals. Hannes Niederwieser adds: “And there were a few missing persons, who were all found again”. Hannes Mader, Commander in Seefeld, also says: “We are very satisfied, especially regarding the size of the event! We were well prepared and everything is going well”. The men even praise the fans, especially those from the far north: “Everyone who has already followed the event on TV and news has seen that the fans are very original and imaginative – especially with their costumes,” Niederwieser says happily.

“They are very peaceful and friendly people, the atmosphere is great and they are also very patient. They area all nice people and they still have fun in the Nordic Mile after the competitions and find their way home at a late hour.”

The atmosphere at the police station is relaxed: “There are many friendly encounters with the people! We have about 15,000 official acts every day, where we help someone, guide the traffic and so on,” says Niederwieser. “But of course there is also the task of the police to punish someone if necessary. Order must be maintained.”

Compliments for the traffic concept

A traffic concept was developed in advance to reduce the traffic on the roads around Seefeld as much as possible. Fans with valid tickets can use public transport free of charge on the days of the event. Parking spaces with shuttle to the competition venues have been set up. Once again, the police compliments: “We have to thank the population for accepting the traffic control measures in the way we have suggested and ordered them from the authorities”, says Mader. Niederwieser is also pleased: “The traffic behaviour is impressive, many people arrive with the public transport and the shuttle systems work perfectly”. Mader continues: “We have very few complaints.” On the contrary: “The feedback from all sides about the event and the police work is very positive.”

Full stadiums and cheering fans

In the next days of the World Championships the police expects full stadiums. The last weekend will not only be a sporting highlight and attract many people. “We will continue to maintain and intensify all precautionary measures. We hope for a nice sports festival and assume that we can accompany the matter very well .”

The helping hand: Police dog Nemo

The helper on four paws: Police dog Nemo supports the work of the police. Even though Niederwieser assures that he is very cuddly – you certainly don’t want to mess with Nemo…!

Foto: Stepan Claus, Chefinspektor; Wolfgang Ostheimer, Oberstleutnant; Michael Stocker, Gruppeninspektor; Nemo, Polizeidiensthund

Further links:

“Nordic Stories”: More stories about the FIS Nordic Ski World Championships

Seefeld 2019: Alle information at one glance

Interview: Laura Zobernig

Fotos: Tirol Werbung/ Erich Spiess, Laura Zobernig

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