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Ski jumpers take off in PyeongChang

PYEONGCHANG, Gangwon Province ― Korea is still in its early days of ski jumping, but national team coach Kim Heung-soo says they are progressing rapidly through a newly built jumping slope.

Some of the world’s top level ski jumpers on Wednesday had their first taste of the snow-covered Alpensia ski jumping slopes for the FIS Continental Cup, slated for Jan. 12-13.

PyeongChang is holding the two-day competition at the Alpensia ski-jumping stadium. The primary goal is raising awareness of ski-jumping here, but more importantly the Gangwon Province city is trying to grab worldwide attention in a bid to host the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Actress Min Hyo-rin (center) poses with Korea Ski Association president Byeon Tak (left) and Gangwon Province Gov. Lee Kwang-jae in PyeongChang on Wednesday. (Yonhap News)
Actress Min Hyo-rin (center) poses with Korea Ski Association president Byeon Tak (left) and Gangwon Province Gov. Lee Kwang-jae in PyeongChang on Wednesday. (Yonhap News)

Forty-five jumpers from 10 countries have been invited to the country’s first-ever international ski jumping competition.

Two international-standard jump slopes along with a top-notch stadium, which can hold up to 16,000 spectators, were completed in 2009. The newest jump hill had its test run with a small-sized competition last year but this is the first time an international-level competition is taking place at the snow-covered hills.

“It’s exciting that we can finally have a ski-jumping competition here,” Kim told The Korea Herald.

“Thanks to the jumping slopes we could practice more last year. And I think our players are definitely making progress,” Kim said, adding that he was hoping to see his players standing at the podium at the event.

“I hope we can have more international competitions here in the near future.”

However, Korea still needs more time and experience at holding these kind of events, according to some participants.

“The condition of landing slope is quite poor. It’s quite bumpy,” said national team ski jumper Kang Chil-ku. 
Korean national team ski jumper Choi Heung-chul soars through the air during the FIS Continental Cup ski jumping competition on Wednesday in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province. (Yonhap News)
Korean national team ski jumper Choi Heung-chul soars through the air during the FIS Continental Cup ski jumping competition on Wednesday in PyeongChang, Gangwon Province. (Yonhap News)

“The jumping facilities are quite good, but the snow is quite hard which makes it difficult for jumpers to land on,” said Jure Sinkovec from Slovenia.

Gangwon Province Governor Lee Kwang-jae claimed that the aim of hosting the competition is not only for its bid for the Winter Games, but for PyeongChang’s ambition to become an Asian winter sport Mecca.

“I’m not just hoping to win the bid to host the Olympics, but I’d like to see PyeongChang becoming the home of winter sports by 2018,” Lee said.

Speaking of the IOC’s inspection, which is scheduled from Feb. 14-20, Lee said PyeongChang is “ready to show.”

“The timing is great,” he said noting that PyeongChang is offering world-class winter sports events, including the FIS Ski Jumping Continental Cup and also FIS Snowboard World Cup on Feb. 7-9 to grab more international attention ahead of the inspection.

“We’ve failed twice, but this time I’m sure they will be happy to see PyeongChang is fully ready to host the Winter Olympics,” he said.

By Oh Kyu-wook (596story@heraldcorp.com)
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