Lake Weissensee, Austria
By Michael Dalder
I’ve been diving for almost 15 years, but due to family matters it has fallen off my list lately. So a new picture assignment at Lake Weissensee in mid-February 2013 just came right to my diver’s heart: The Underwater Ice hockey Championships.
Underwater Ice hockey is not played on top of the ice like ice hockey is usually played but underneath it. That’s where diving comes into the game because the underwater ice hockey players are in fact apnea divers who want to give their sports an additional sportive kick.
My day started early when I met with the men and women from the Vienna rescue divers’ squad ASBOe – Moedling. These dive enthusiasts are responsible for safety and security during the whole tournament. If you dive under ice you can’t go straight to the surface to breath if you have an emergency. Thus ice diving is, together with cave diving, considered to be the most dangerous diving discipline. For that reason I listened to the security briefing attentively.
One of the rescue divers then took a chainsaw and started cutting the entry, exit and security holes into the 15 cm thick ice.
My buddy from the rescue squad who promised to look after me told me: “In case of emergency when you can’t get to the surface – you must stay cool and go back to the entrance you came from – this is a massive psychological step for divers.” “But so far we have brought everyone back out again” he added with a bright smile. I have been diving in caves before so I knew what I had to face.