Free spirit in a corset – sport

Free spirit in a corset – sport

At the end of the film, Silvia Mittermüller makes a reference to freedom of expression. “I am allowed to tell my story as I have lived and experienced it, and that is the truth.” It is the story of one of Germany’s top female skaters, whose 20-year career ended in a deep disagreement with the German Figure Skating Association (SVD). It is a story of omissions and misunderstandings, mutual reprimands, and serious allegations by the athlete to the federation. It is a story of deep depression – and a way out of this darkness – that is told in the documentary “Metal Battle Girl”, which is shown at the Dok.fest in Munich.

The moment when the now 39-year-old former World Cup winner ended her long career is also the end of Munich director Andreas Wolf’s documentary – captured in a filmed telephone conversation between the athlete and SVD chief Michael Holz. Mittermüller cancels the date of the final agreement, Hölz ​​threatens its legal action – because of behavior that, in his opinion, harms the association.

The President has his say in the film, but shortly before the film is released, he refers to what he believes is an agreed-upon reservation of the license – which is why the Society refuses to release these interview scenes. Unsuccessful, because the director said in an interview with SZ that Hölz ​​refrained from doing so several times – and also allowed the phone calls to be filmed. The lawyers are now conducting the dialogue.

How did you get to this?

“I was drawn to her story,” says director Andreas Wolf, who is himself a former extreme athlete.

Anyone who watched the movie can imagine that Mitremler is not an easy athlete. The Munich native lives relentlessly and passionately for her sport, the freestyle variant of figure skating. It’s about spinning in the air, or somersaulting in the halfpipe, downhill course or on a giant hill – athletes risk their health with every run. Perhaps this is the reason for the coherence in the scene. Extreme athletes see themselves as a family, and are spontaneous, sometimes unconventional, coaching each other. “Snowboarding means freedom to me,” says Mitremler. You have to know it to understand them.

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Andreas Wolf understands them, he himself was an extreme athlete and traveled the world as a professional surfer for eleven years. He knows the feeling when an active career ends, life ends and the second life has not really begun yet. “The difficulty of giving up the sport, the sadness you fall into,” he says. He manages to transition better than the protagonist of his movie. Because Wolf, who had always had an interest in film and realized his first ventures as a professional surfer, was accepted into the USC Graduate School of Cinema in Los Angeles shortly after his career ended. A year later he moved to Munich to the University of Television. The 44-year-old has made three films so far, two of which are collaborations with Stephanie Brockhaus, all of which have won her multiple awards. Then he came across Silvia Mittermüller.

“I was drawn to her story,” says Wolf. Last Thursday the premiere was at the Rio Filmpalast in Munich, next Thursday (8:30 pm, Deutsches Theatre) and Friday (6 pm, Passengerfabrik) the film will be shown again. ZDF co-produced the series “Metal Battle Girl” and will broadcast it at the end of this year.

Mitremler’s story shows how difficult it is for freedom-loving athletes to meet an association that has to think about structures and show success in order to receive money from the state and sponsors. At the latest when figure skating is Olympic, free spirits are squeezed into the girdle of performance. Mittermüller has always had problems with strict guidelines; Sometimes you disagree with the coach, sometimes you accuse the officials of being ignorant. However, her career is going uphill quickly, she has been the best German in the freestyle section for many years and is one of the best in the world.

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After a fall in New Zealand, she feels left alone and hitchhikes to her home alone – with a life-threatening brain hemorrhage.

But she also takes the liberty of refusing to compete in the World Championships because she feels it is too dangerous. I fell out with officials several times and stopped being promoted. Extreme athletes are used to taking personal responsibility, flying around the world to competitions, and financing themselves through sponsors or advertising films. In order to compete in important competitions, you need an association. Mitremler missed the 2014 Olympics due to internal disagreements, and the association will support her again in 2018.

But the collaboration remains strained: During a training camp in New Zealand in 2017, she was riding alone in a halfpipe and fell hard on her head, lying unconscious. When help arrives, she suffers a seizure and is taken to hospital by helicopter. Although on a computer tomography, doctors diagnose only a concussion, Mittermüller wants to leave the hospital. Her coach, who had not traveled to the clinic, advised her to stay the night and wanted to pick her up the next morning – after a telephone consultation with the team doctor in Germany. Feeling left alone, Mitremler estimates her brain function at “about five percent” today – and acts accordingly. She dismisses herself, goes to the German quarters, and the next day is on the plane to Germany. A cerebral hemorrhage was found there. Mittermüller could have died.

When asked by SZ, President Hölz ​​referred to the athlete’s personal responsibility: “All participants in the federation have lived up to their responsibility in the best possible way and in a situation-oriented manner.” But how far does the duty of care really go – shouldn’t the coach be with her, given her condition?

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Mitremler quickly recovered and started a year later at the Pyeongchang Winter Games. The track and weather are demanding, Mitremler takes a storm in training and tears her inner meniscus. Nevertheless, she finished the race and had the “happiest last time in history”.

A few weeks after the Olympics, the association told her they were taking her off the team and cutting her financial support. She was told to her face “I am too old and too injured to get back up to World Cup level”. The way the news is being relayed to her seems to hurt her at least as much as the message itself. Mitremler falls into a hole, feeling worthless, rejected. He suffers from severe depression, has suicidal thoughts, and admits himself to psychiatry. lose her feet.

“The Happiest End of Ages”: Silvia Mittermüller at the PyeongChang Olympic Games.

(Photo: Angelica Warmuth/dpa)

But she, who has dealt with countless injuries, alone three cruciate ligament tears, fractures, and an Achilles tendon rupture, also survived this crisis.

And she says so Mirror Her story speaks of liberation — and blames the association for the mental decline she fell into after the 2018 Olympics. The association didn’t want to comment at the time, nor did it understand its athlete’s fuss. Mitremler wants to start over in racing, and the association refuses – because of a duty of care, Halls says today: “This happened after a medical report on her physical and mental health.”

Mitremler sees this as a receipt because she published her point of view at the time. In fact, a year ago, the federation offered her the possibility of entering it again in regional competitions if she apologized for previous statements that harmed the federation, worked to correct some statements in the documentary and signed a disclaimer of responsibility for the competitions. A trip to Canossa to obtain permission to start over for the association? At least an unusual requirement. For Mittermüller it is the final impetus to end her career.

Woolf’s original idea was for a documentary about Sylvia Mitremler’s career, ideally with a happy ending. This fails because both sides adhere to each other’s point of view, and there is no real will to reach an agreement. This gives the documentary an accusatory tone. The Metal Battle Girl viewer is left to question what responsibilities the athlete and the association have to each other when performance wanes – but the human remains.

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