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Saturday, May 25, 2024

Jumping for joy

Norway’s men’s ski jumping team was collectively jumping for joy, after team member Tom Hilde soared to victory at a World Cup event on Thursday and also put the Norwegians on the winners’ platform in the prestigious Four Hills Tournament, known as hoppuke in Norway.

Norwegian ski jumper Tom Hilde was all smiles this week after a thrilling performance at the Four Hills Tournament and its final World Cup event at Bischofshofen in Austria. PHOTO: International Ski Federation FIS

Hilde, who had worn a Superman suit under his jumping apparel, was thrilled, as were his colleagues. The International Ski Federation (FIS) itself called Hilde’s performance “the biggest success of his career,” as he won the World Cup competition in front of around 30,000 fans at Bischofshofen ahead of ski jumping star Thomas Morgenstern of Austria, who placed second. Morgenstern, however, won the Four Hills tournament itself.

It was the Norwegian team’s 12th victory at Bischofshofen in Austria since 1953 and, as newspaper Aftenposten reported, it gave a collective boost to the team that’s been under pressure as speculation swirls over who will emerge as their new coach. Current coach Mika Kojonkoski has said he plans to move on after this season.

Kojonkoski, however, was celebrating with the rest of his jumpers, including Bjørn Einar Romøren, Anders Jacobsen, Anders Bardal and Johan Remen Evensen. They all genuinely relished Hilde’s victory, while the 23-year-old Hilde himself claimed the “entire team was behind” his success.

“I am really proud of that boy,” a visibly moved Kojonkoski said after Hilde jumped 138 and 132 meters for a combined score of 278.7 in the final World Cup event of the German-Austrian ski jumping tournament. Hilde’s score was just ahead of home-turf hero  Morgenstern’s 277.1. Third place went to Andreas Kofler, also of Austria.

Most prestigious victory
Hilde also has won two earlier World Cup ski jumping events this season, but this one was arguably most prestigious. It also propelled him from sixth place in the overall tournament to third, with a total of 895 points, earning the coveted spot on the podium.

Back home in Norway, Hilde’s personal coach Jermund Lunder watched on TV in Lillehammer and linked Hilde’s success this season to a more offensive style. Lunder, who has worked with Hilde since he was 15 years old, says he and Hilde studied videos from successful seasons in 2007-2008, for example, before the young man who now lives in Asker, west of Oslo, experienced a downturn.

“We watched his good jumps and studied them and found our way back to that style,” Lunder told Aftenposten. It’s working well this season and now Hilde is a favorite at the upcoming World Championships at Holmenkollen in Oslo next month.

Now the pressure is on during the weeks leading up to Holmenkollen. The ski jumpers want to perform well before fans at home, they’ve been distracted by the uncertainty over their team leadership, and even claimed earlier this week that they think they should earn more money from their sport.

Hilde, for example, has earned only around NOK 209,000 from World Cup participation so far this season. While Alpine skiers win around NOK 220,000 and Nordic skiers NOK 90,000 for a win, the jumpers get around NOK 60,000. The jumpers think that should be raised through a bigger bonus for those landing on the winners’ platform.

Views and News from Norway/Nina Berglund
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