• Olympics & Paralympics

4 years after disappointment, Horishima’s determination brings him medal

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ikuma Horishima expresses his joy after earning the bronze medal in the men’s mogul in Zhangijakou in China’s Hebei Province on Saturday.

Freestyle skier Ikuma Horishima almost made his dream come true. When he was a third-year junior high school student, he was determined to win the gold medal at the Olympics.

Four years ago at the Pyeongchang Olympics in South Korea, Horishima was a favorite to win the gold in the event, but he fell and finished 11th.

At the Beijing Winter Olympics on Saturday night, the 24-year-old finished third in the men’s moguls to earn the bronze.

“It’s great I could succeed” in winning a medal, he said, his eyes filled with relief.

Born in Ikeda, Gifu Prefecture, Horishima’s parents took him skiing when he was 1 and he could immediately ski down a slope. As he was not strong enough, he sometimes fell suddenly after finishing his run. When his father rushed over to him, Horishima was sound asleep on the snow.

In the summer of his fourth year of elementary school, he went to a training facility where he put on his skis and jumped into a pool. On the second day after he started practicing mogul turn techniques, he surprised everyone by performing a back flip. He practiced twice as much as others there without taking a break.

“I will definitely win a gold medal at the Olympics,” he wrote in a letter to his future self during his third year of junior high school. “Effort is important to achieve my goal. It is the present me who will make the future me.”

He was 20 when he took to the slopes at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. He had just won the moguls in the World Cup and was rapidly rising as a contender for the gold medal. A huge cheering crowd from his hometown had also made it to the event.

In that final, however, he lost his balance while performing his favorite jump and fell. He said the stress of being likely to have a successful result made him lose his composure.

The past four years, Horishima has been actively doing other sports, such as diving, figure skating and parkour. He gained tips on how to shift his weight by practicing these sports.

Throughout this season’s World Cup events, he has finished on the podium.

At the Beijing Olympics, he didn’t do well in the first qualification on Thursday. In the do-or-die second qualification on Saturday, he came back with a better performance to make it to the final found.

He didn’t want to end another Olympics without a medal, so he bested his previous performance with a bronze medal showing.