Although Benjamin Østvold has not yet made ski jumping history, his name will certainly be remembered by fans in Zakopane as the first Norwegian jumper to reach the 150 meter mark and successfully land on the Wielka Krokiew hill. What’s more, he admits that his flight could still have been longer, however it was a risk that could have come with some dire consequences.
The 20-year-old ski jumper from Lillehammer has participated in 9 FIS Cup events so far (having debuted in July 2017), as well as three Continental Cup competitions. In addition, he also participated in this year’s Junior World Championships in Lahti, where he was the best jumper… though only in the trial round. So far, he hasn’t captured any podium finishes in international competitions, but ski jumping fans will most definitely remember his record-breaking 150-meter jump in Zakopane.
On March 13, the Norwegian athlete took part in the trial round prior to a Continental Cup competition on the Wielka Krokiew hill (K-125/ HS-140) and soared past the 150-meter mark, which is three meters further than the official record set by the Japanese Yukiya Sato. Østvold was capable of making full use of some very strong headwind (4,34 m/s), but no one can take away that glorious moment of entering the pages of Zakopane ski jumping history. Let’s just add that the Norwegian athlete also managed to achieve his best performance in a CoC competition so far in the past week, taking eighth place.
Bartosz Leja: It’s been a few days since your 150-meter record-breaking jump in Zakopane… How did this jump look from your perspective – from the start gate down to the landing?
Benjamin Østvold: When I was standing on top, I heard all the lengths of those who jumped before me. I realized that the French jumper before me [Alessandro Batby, 136.5 m – editor’s note], among others, had jumped far, so the conditions were quite good. But could also see that the wind was changing very quickly, so the only thing I thought about was what I could actually manage to do with that. Everything was completely normal until I jumped off the edge and I got kind of a “take-off” feeling – both in that the jump was good, but also that there were good wind conditions. As I was in the air and felt like I was just being pulled higher and higher in the lift by the wind conditions, for a while I thought I was going to jump too far, and I was pretty sure I was going to fall. Fortunately, I managed to safely come down again. When I landed, I was incredibly happy that I managed to stand on my feet, and it was a completely insane feeling!
Our reporters remarked that it looked like you could fly even further. In your opinion, what is the furthest distance possible to land in Zakopane? And do you think such attempts are too risky to consider?
I’m pretty sure I could have jumped 10 meters longer because I was flying so high in the air, and I had to throw my arms straight out for the last 60 meters of the jump in order to land. It may be possible to jump maybe 2 meters further, but I do not think it would be safe at all because 150 meters on that hill is insanely long.
Have you jumped that far on other hills? Or have you seen such long jumps on other large hills during unofficial trainings?
The longest I have jumped before is 148 meters in Lillehammer, so this was a record for me. I have seen many sick videos of long jumps, but I would have never thought that I would see lengths like that during that weekend in Zakopane.
When we look at your international ski jumping experience, there are some long breaks. Why is that?
The reason why I have not jumped so much internationally before is because I have not consistently jumped well enough for a long time. I have had single jumps that were very good, but there was some time between the best jumps. I have also struggled with some injuries in the last 3 years. This season has been a kind of “breakthrough” season for me and things on the ski jump have really started to go right. However, because I am still a junior, I have not been at as many CoC competitions as I would have liked. This was mainly due to the Junior World Championships.
What is the internal rivalry in the Norwegian ski jumping team like? Is it difficult to jump at the national team level and make the national team?
The highest level in Norway is extremely high and the guys ski jump extremely well, so I would say it is difficult to get on the team internationally because there are so many who jump well all the time. You must therefore improve your jumping all the time to get a chance.
It’s interesting what the chances and opportunities are for athletes outside the national team in Norway. Do you have to pay for the equipment, trainings, travels, hotels on your own? Or do you have support from the ski clubs?
When we are not on any national team in Norway, we have to pay for everything ourselves – from equipment to travel in Norway – so that makes it extremely expensive. But at international competitions such as CoC and WC we do not have to pay for anything ourselves. However, since we do have to pay for competitions and everything else in Norway, most people have their own sponsors and are looking for new sponsors all the time.
When you look at your current form, what could you say about your goals for the next season, or even the next years?
This season I have finally had the opportunity to jump a little in the Continental Cup and I have done quite well in the competitions I have participated in. So next year’s goal will be to stabilize my form at CoC competitions, so that it is at a high level, and maybe I will try my luck in the World Cup.
Are there any ski jumpers who are your authority, favorite athlete or idol? In terms of their sports performance, but also in terms of their personality.
There has always been 1 ski jumper I have looked up to, and that is Gregor Schlierenzauer. He’s the ski jumper with the most wins ever and I’ve always liked him. I also look up to many others who have jumped extremely well, such as Peter Prevc and Stefan Kraft.
Anna Libera, Bartosz Leja,