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Thursday, October 28, 2021

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    From the ice channel into parliament

    It’s been almost ten years since Carlos Kasper raced down the ice channel on a sled at 130 kilometers per hour. At that time he was a competitive athlete and trained regularly in Winterberg or Altenberg; on the fastest luge tracks in Europe. Today the 27-year-old sits for the SPD parliamentary group in the Bundestag and deals with issues such as customs and the environment. He moved into parliament via the state list of Saxony.

    The first days in the Bundestag were especially exhausting, says Kasper. “You don’t sleep much in the election campaign and the entire election was pretty exciting.” He did not expect his party to win over 19 percent of the vote in Saxony and still be ahead of the CDU. “Not even in our wildest dreams did we hope to become the second strongest force.”

    Kasper is particularly pleased that a quarter of the new SPD parliamentary group consists of Jusos. It is not only the youth movement with the most mandates, but also a very diverse group.

    He himself is one of at least 23 openly queer MPs and is happy that the Bundestag is “significantly more diverse and diverse” and that a large number of MPs openly deal with their “sexual orientation or gender identity apart from the heteronormative notion”. For example, Nyke Slawik and Tessa Ganserer from the Greens were the first trans women to move in. “Overall, we need more queer representation in society, not just in the German Bundestag,” says Kasper.

    Kasper, who grew up in Lichtenstein in Saxony, has taken an unusual path into politics: At the age of six he started winter sports, back then while on vacation with his parents. A few years later, his mother gave him the idea of ​​trying out luge and Kasper was quickly fascinated: “The speed is really cool and it’s a great feeling to lie on the sled and go down the track.”

    He believes that at that age it is easier to start sledding “because you are not yet fully aware of the risk”. Later, Kasper went to a winter sports high school and took part in national and international competitions. He particularly fondly remembers how he won bronze in the junior division at the German championship and won the Nations Cup at Königssee.

    As a junior he was once third in the German Luge Championships

    “He had a very good training attitude and a good balance between school, sport and his parents. That is very important, ”says Andreas Estel, who was trainer at the Olympic base in Oberwiesenthal at the time. “It is not at all easy to bring school, sport and the rest under one roof.”

    During his high school graduation, however, Kasper found that his athletic performance was no longer sufficient. He wondered if he really wanted to do luge all his life and what it would “bring to society”. “The motivation was no longer there.” So he stopped luge because it became too expensive as a hobby and he also didn’t have the time. Instead, he joined the SPD and completed a dual course of study. “My parents put a lot of money into me during my competitive sports career, so I wanted to relieve them.”

    Sport, however, is still one of Kasper’s passions, even if only in his free time. “I like to do sports myself, but sports politics is not my thing at all.” He prefers to go jogging or play volleyball. At the political level, he would like to bring the issue of customs to the fore and work in the Federal Finance Committee to ensure that customs are converted into a federal finance police. The topics of nature and sustainability are also on his agenda. In addition to two cats, Kasper also has an allotment garden in Lichtenstein, where he grows fruit and vegetables and which is an “important retreat” for him.

    When Andreas Estel read in the newspaper that Kasper had been elected to the Bundestag, he called his former student quickly and congratulated him. Although he regrets that Kasper has left competitive sport, he is also happy that he has made it into politics.

    In the Bundestag, memories of the railway in Winterberg are increasingly taking a back seat, but some skills that he learned during his time as a competitive athlete still benefit Kasper today. “You have to be focused on the end result. I take that with me from that time ”, he says,“ and you have to be ambitious and stand up for your goals ”. One thought in particular has burned itself in: Always keep fighting – even when things go bad.

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