Playback ‘94: Back-to-Back Olympic Champs Hinomaru Composite Team Spark Panic as They Return to Japan | FRIDAY DIGITAL

Playback ‘94: Back-to-Back Olympic Champs Hinomaru Composite Team Spark Panic as They Return to Japan

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Ogiwara is being jostled by a crowd of fans. Can you guess where he is? (March 25, 1994 issue)

What did FRIDAY report 10, 20, and 30 years ago? In “Playback Friday,” we take a look back at the topics that were hot at the time. This time, we bring you “A flood of gals at Narita Airport, Hinomaru composite troop’s triumphant panic, and Kenji Ogiwara’s save me from the March 25, 1994 issue, 30 years ago.

The Winter Olympics were held in Lillehammer, Norway, in February of this year. The Nordic ski combined team was the only Japanese team to win a gold medal. At the time, this was only the third gold medal won by Japan at the Winter Olympics. Moreover, this was their second consecutive victory following their second Olympic victory in Albertville (France) in 1992, and Narita Airport, where they made their triumphant return, was filled with unusual enthusiasm. The articles from that time are also quite cynical.


The excitement was so great that even the athletes themselves were stunned.

“Crikey! Ogiwarakoon!

The person with his mouth open amidst the yellow voice is not Hikaru GENJI or SMAP, but the gold medalist Kenji Ogiwara (24 at the time).

Takanori Kono (then 25), Masashi Abe (then 28), and Ogihara, who won two consecutive team championships at the Lillehammer Olympics, went straight to the World Cup in Finland after the Olympics, and finally returned to Japan on March 7. However, even Ogihara was stunned by the panic at the arrival gate.


The security guards yelled, “Yes, it’s dangerous! The high school girls rushed to the three of them, and especially to Ogihara! With bouquets of flowers and gifts shoved into their hands, and the flashes of disposable cameras flashing all over the place, Kono was already in a state of shock. A woman’s voice came out of nowhere, “Happy birthday, Kono-san! Hey, are you okay?



After the press conference, Ogiwara and his team secluded themselves in the press room for a while to avoid confusion, then transferred to a domestic flight through the staff passageway in the airport and headed to Sapporo, the location of the next match. It was a birth of a star moment that neither the individuals involved, nor even the press expected.

 Of the three, it was Ogihara who attracted the most attention. In Albertville in 1992, he was the first Japanese skier to adopt the V-jump and was the driving force behind the team victory in the combined skiing event, and his fearlessness and free-spiritedness earned him the nickname newcomer. He was also the world’s first skier to win three consecutive World Cup individual all-around titles, and his nickname, “King of Skiing,” became a nickname for the king of combined skiing.


After Ogiwara’s retirement, Akito Watanabe has been active in the World Cup in Japan’s combined skiing, but the team has been away from medals for a long time since Lillehammer. However, he won a bronze medal at the 2022 Beijing Olympics, and there are hopes for a comeback. I can’t help but hope that a golden age like the one we had back then will come again.

After the Olympics, Ogiwara’s twin brother Tsugiharu (left) also participated in the World Cup in Finland, so they returned home together. The brothers competed together at the Nagano Olympics (’94, March 25).
Kono screamed happily, “There’s something wrong,” he said (March 25, 1994 issue).
  • PHOTO Shinya Inui

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