The World’s Worst Jumping Platform” Stands in the Way of Sara Takanashi’s Quest for Gold | FRIDAY DIGITAL

The World’s Worst Jumping Platform” Stands in the Way of Sara Takanashi’s Quest for Gold

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on LINE
The National Ski Jumping Center in Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province, the venue of the Beijing Olympic ski jumping event, is illuminated. The disc-shaped area with radiating lights is the waiting area for athletes, who will start from the area just below the disc.

The Beijing Winter Olympics will open on the 4th of next month. Japan’s candidates for the gold medal are Yuzuru Hanyu (27) in men’s figure skating, who is aiming for a third consecutive Olympic victory, and Sara Takanashi (25) in women’s ski jumping, who won the bronze medal in the previous PyeongChang Games. A reporter covering the Olympics for a national newspaper said, “Hanyu will be fine. But for Takanashi, I want to say that she will win gold this time, but she will have a hard time because of the bad conditions.

In winter sports, the winner is determined by the weather. Unlike Figure Skating, which is held indoors, in outdoor jumping, the ranking can be determined by the strength and direction of the wind when it’s your turn, not just on the day of the competition.

It is said that the game is luck of the hour, but this time, we will be affected by the wind more than ever. This time, more than ever, we will be affected by the wind, because we have built a jumping tower on a hill with nothing around it. There are fears that many athletes will lose their balance and fall down when they slide out from the top of the tower and are hit by the tailwind or crosswind. If they hit their heads, their lives will be at stake. Takanashi has been flying jumps in Europe, the U.S. and Japan for more than 10 years, but I think this is the most terrifying experience she has ever had.

The venue, the National Ski Jumping Center, is located in Zhangjiakou, Hebei Province, about 180 kilometers from Beijing. It was named “Xue Ruyi” because its appearance resembles the “Ruyi”, a vessel used as a symbol of good fortune in the ancient Chinese court, and is the first ski jumping platform in China to pass international standards. The name is typical of China, which boasts 4,000 years of history, but it also looks like a flying saucer has landed on a hill in the wilderness.

It is usually built in a place surrounded by mountains so as not to be affected by the wind too much. Although there is no international standard that requires a location within a certain number of meters of crosswind, the comment that “they just built a jumping platform” is not an exaggeration.

So, what about the weather conditions? According to the tourist guide “Travel to China,” the average temperature on February 5, the day of the individual competition (normal hill) in which Takanashi will compete, is 0 degrees Celsius at its highest and -12 degrees Celsius at its lowest, and it has recorded -22 degrees Celsius in the past. The average temperature on February 5, when the normal hill race will be held, is 0 degrees Celsius.

There is no concern about the lack of snow, but what about the quality of the snow? The coaches and staff will have a hard time deciding which wax to use, because it is artificial snow. Even more difficult is how to deal with the wind. All the hard work of the past four years can be blown away by a momentary breeze. It could be a big upset that a completely unmarked competitor wins, instead of the competitor’s performance.

But how could the International Ski Federation endorse such a dangerous jump? If there is an accident, it will be a liability issue.

Although she stood on the podium for the first time in PyeongChang four years later, she has yet to reach the top.

She has won only one World Cup race this season, and her adjustment has been slow due to the cancellation of games in Japan because of the spread of a new coronavirus infection, and even though she won in Innsbruck, Austria, on March 21, it was a lower-level event.

The skier who has been watching Takanashi’s jumps for many years points out, “The best thing you can do to improve your jumping distance is to make sure you have a good jump.

She has not been able to time her sats (step-offs), which are most important to increase her distance. It’s not a technical problem, but rather the binding (the device that holds the shoes to the ski board) is not right. Maybe it’s just a matter of trial and error.

With the pressure of winning the gold medal on her shoulders, Takanashi will have to tackle a very dangerous jump.

Top photo from the side. She slides diagonally down to the left from the vicinity of the disk-shaped area on the upper right, and jumps. It can be seen that there is nothing to block the crosswind from blowing on the athletes (Photo: Xinhua / Kyodo News)
A photo of the jump site taken from behind in the sky. The disc-shaped area is the waiting area for the athletes to take the jump. There are no trees covering the jumping area, so the effect of wind is inevitable.
Takanashi jumps in the women’s ski jumping World Cup in Klingenthal, Germany, on December 11 last year. When a mountain is carved out of the ground like a typical jumping field, trees can be seen behind Takanashi as she jumps (Photo: Afro)

Photo Gallery4 total

Photo Selection

Check out the best photos for you.

Related Articles