Ski jumper Kobayashi earns large hill silver

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Ski jumper Ryoyu Kobayashi hoists a Japanese flag after winning the silver in the large hill individual event at the National Ski Jumping Centre in Zhangjiakou, China, on Saturday.

BEIJING — Ski jumper Ryoyu Kobayashi claimed the silver medal in the large hill individual event at the Beijing Winter Olympics on Saturday night, his second medal after he won gold on the normal hill on Feb. 6.

It was also the 10th medal for Japan at the Games.

This is the first time that a Japanese jumper has landed multiple medals at the same Winter Olympics since the 2014 Sochi Games, at which Noriaki Kasai won a silver medal in the individual large hill and grabbed bronze in the team competition.

Kobayashi put together jumps of 142 meters and 138 meters to rack up 292.8 points at the Zhangjiakou National Ski Jumping Centre.

Having posted the longest jump of 142 meters among the competitors in the first round, Kobayashi looked relaxed — he even had a smile on his face — as he got set atop the hill before his second attempt.

“Actually, I was quite nervous,” he confessed. But he earned silver with a 138-meter flight. “I’m very happy, but a little bit disappointed,” said Kobayashi about the result.

The disappointment was likely that his score was 3.3 points lower than that of winner Marius Lindvik of Norway. This is less than 2 meters in terms of distance.

Kobayashi said his skis were “slightly out of kilter” on his second attempt. Lindvik, on the other hand, soared to a strong jump of 140 meters despite an unfavorable tailwind.

With a tiny mistake, his chance of becoming the just fourth competitor in history to win two gold medals in Olympic individual ski jumping events vanished like an illusion.

The Japanese star has been posting victories because of his excellent takeoff and stable aerial position. But according to Kobayashi, the real secret of his success is that he can “forget, in a good way, about his victories.”

He has the Japanese men’s record for World Cup titles with 26.

Although it takes him a while to recall this surprising number, it takes him no time at all to produce the figure when he boasts about the 80-plus pairs of sneakers in his collection.

What has motivated him since he was a child is his desire to “fly long distances.”

“I want to perform big jumps,” he usually says before competitions. His determination has remained unchanged. Competing with rivals is important, but flying far — more than anything else — gives him the best feeling.

Masahiko Harada, a gold medalist at the 1998 Nagano Olympics, is impressed with Kobayashi’s performance, saying, “Japan is set to lead the world.”

The 25-year-old Kobayashi is Japan’s top jumper and figures to continue to make history, aiming only for huge jumps.