When the sun goes down and the lights go off men in lycra love to put on skis and hurl themselves off massive ramps.
As we have previously outlined, of all the weird sports that make up a Winter Olympics ski jumping might well take the bonkers biscuit. The idea of hurtling down a ramp at breakneck speed with nothing but skis to stop you from becoming more familiar with the earth requires a certain type of individual.
On Saturday morning and then lunchtime a good bunch of those individuals will do battle on the large hill, the marquee ski jumping event of the games. If you though the normal hill a few days ago was a spectacle, you ain’t seen nothing yet.
Beijing 2022
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All eyes will be on Japan superstar Ryoyu Kobayashi, gold medal winner from the normal hill and defending Four Hills champion. Kobayashi has developed into one of the most consistent athletes in the sport.
But as Kobayashi himself told Sportiva in an interview before the games, all his recent success on the World Cup tour doesn’t matter unless he brings home a medal for Japan.

'The Japanese explode with joy' - Kobayashi secures ski jumping gold in style

Well he already has one. A second gold would not only catapult him into the pantheons of legendary Japanese sportspeople, it would be a huge boon for a country that had a golden period in the 90s. The team won silver at Lillehammer in 1994 and then they took home gold four years later in front of rapturous home fans in Nagano. Kazuyoshi Funaki added to the euphoria by winning gold in the individual large hill.
Traditionally dominated by Europeans (competitors outside of the continent are historically very rare) Kobayashi and his older brother Junshiro are now he new generation making waves alongside Sara Takanashi in the women’s tour as well as the likes of Yukiya Sato and Naoki Nakamura. Kobayashi has admitted the first games he can remember is Vancouver 2010 but along with Takanashi a whole new generation can be inspired.
Before we move on to look at some of the men who will try and beat Kobayashi we feel we have to point out this absolutely astonishing training video posted by Kobayashi’s team a few days ago.
This like a game of “The Floor is Lava” meets “Wipeout”, put them in a blender and throw in a six pack of energy drinks. The body control Kobayashi shows here is nothing short of jaw-dropping and a great insight into the sort of work that goes into ski jumping preparation.
So who stands in his way?
Well, as hard to believe as it may seem, there are probably anywhere between 10-15 jumpers who will wake up tomorrow knowing they have a real shot at gold.
Polish legend Kamil Stoch is the defending champion and both he and compatriots Piotr Zyla and Dawid Kubacki (who won bronze in the normal hill) will be right in the mix.
Norway are always strongly represented and they will send Halvor Egner Granerud, Marius Lindvik, Robert Johansson (holder of the greatest nickname in sports in “The Flying Moustache”) and Daniel Andre Tande.
Maybe you fancy a bit of Germany? Karl Geiger and Markus Eisenbichler are their big hopes. Austria will have the normal hill silver medallist Manu Fettner (the 36-year-old who might have even stunned himself a little), as well as Daniel Huber, Jan Hoerl and Stefan Kraft.
Don’t forget about the Prevc brothers either, Peter and Cene will represent Slovenia alongside rising stars Lovro Kos and Timi Zajc.
Did we forget anyone? Oh of course! Killian Peier is the star of the Swiss team but that line-up also contains Simi Ammann, the quadruple Olympic champion who is jumping at the age of 40!
All in all its set up to be an absolutely brilliant competition. It will allow fans to say goodbye to some proper legends, watch some of the best to ever do it, and get a look at the those who are poised to pick up the mantle in the coming years.
In many ways ski jumping has never been in ruder health, concerns over what might happen when Stoch eventually steps away have been calmed by the emergence of some serious jumpers. It needs to get out of its way at times (but hey, what sports organisation body doesn’t?) but there is real hope.
A prime time event is the perfect way to increase global interest in the sport. So get your morning beverage and pastry of choice (as well as a nice sandwich to have when we roll round to lunchtime in the UK) and watch these geniuses at work. Now the ball is in their court.
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Beijing 2022
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Beijing 2022
Watch wild and emotional celebrations as Austria win team ski jumping gold
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