Monday, February 7, 2022

Women's Normal Hill


In my hopeless to the point of delusional attempt to watch every bit of the 2022 Winter Olympics (I'm seeing about two percent so far) I caught what was one of the first medal events; The Women's Normal Hill in ski jumping.

I really like ski jumping. There's something heroic about it with those oversized skis, the almost momentary quality of each attempt, the heave and great flight, and that glorious still suspension in the middle where the skier sails through the air and time seems to almost stop for a moment, a photograph of a miracle.

One thing amazing about the ski jumping is that everything is equalized, everyone has the same chance, equipment, conditions, and everyone is excellent and well trained, and yet the top jumpers will somehow sail 30 meters farther than the bottom ones. It is a massive difference to result from minute perfections.

Somewhere early in my viewing I became very impressed with the Slovenian team and hitched my horse to them. It's dangerous to get emotionally involved because before long I was extremely judgmental about, well, the judging.

To be honest, I still don't really understand ski jumping. Yes, the distance is extremely important, but there are also style points from the judges. I prefer an Olympic sport to be absolute as much as possible: Who ran 1500 Meters the fastest, who lifted the most weight, who skied down the hill the quickest. And to my uneducated mind ski jumping seems perfectly well suited to this simplicity. As pretty as the sport is, with their strange, flying postures and their graceful landings, I don't care if they look like a confused bat hurdling down the hill if they can go farther than anyone else.

But for some reason never explained by the commentators, (and, grudgingly, I suppose there are good reasons as yet beyond my consideration) that's not how it works.

But I was able to get all through my reservations with this judging as the Slovenians kept nailing their jumps. And I loved seeing how happy they were when they did it. 

But here was far and away the best part:

When the Slovenian teammates did a fantastic jump, effectively costing the previous Slovenians gold and silver medals, those previous jumpers were still genuinely thrilled, I mean they were unmistakably joyful and emotionally moved by the success of their friends who were besting them. They rejoiced together, tearful.

The Slovenian women finished first, third, fifth, and ninth. And the longest jump of the day was by gold medalist Ursa Bogataj of Slovenia.

Just as it should be.

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