The Japanese athlete ends his country’s 50-year wait for individual normal hill gold. Austria’s Manuel Fettner wins silver and Poland’s Dawid Kubacki bronze.
Japan’s Kobayashi Ryoyu has triumphed in the men’s normal hill ski jumping final with a score of 275 points. Under the cloak of darkness in the Zhangjiakou National Ski Jumping Centre, the pre-Games favourite registered jumps of 145.4m and 129.6m to take gold and end his country’s 50-year wait for an Olympic normal hill ski jumping champion, since Kasaya Yukio’s victory at Sapporo 1972.
With celebrated names such as Germany’s Karl Geiger and Austria’s Stefan Kraft failing to challenge for the medal positions, it was Austrian athlete Manuel Fettner who provided the stiffest challenge to Kobayashi with 270.8 points after both jumps. The bronze medal went to Poland’s Dawid Kubacki, who finished on 265.9 points.
Kobayashi has dominated the World Cup season in terms of victories, winning seven of 19 events, including three of the Four Hill events – just shy of the Grand Slam. However, it remained to be seen whether he could turn this form into Olympic gold. Now all questions have been answered as he soared to the first men’s ski jumping gold of Beijing 2022.
After the competition, the new Olympic champion expressed his elation at having won gold: “I can’t believe it at all. My two jumps were perfect, which I was very pleased with.
“Today I had only good feelings when I was performing. At the last Olympics [where Kobayashi finished seventh in the normal hill] I realised many things that I was missing so this time I did what I had to do. This is why I got the victory.”
Fettner, who won silver at age 36, reflected on the journey that has led to his moment of glory in Beijing.
“I’m very sure that it means much more to me than if I had won it 10 years ago,” he said. “It was a long wait – tough times, good times. But if you wait for something longer, then you can celebrate it.”