Craft is the prompt for Monday. They do say that you can use the prompt any way you want. Stefan Kraft is my favourite ski jumper, and we are in the middle of ski jumping season. That means I spend several hours a week watching the World Cup ski jumpers.And I’m not doing any craft fairs until April!
Just Jot It January is by Linda Hill (with help from her friends). You can jot something down for the prompt anywhere, any time, just post it on your blog before the end of the month (so it seems). You can read the full instructions here.
Craft, or in my case Kraft – Jan 15th
This is linked back to Astrid’s blog post for the day.
I think I started watching ski jumping regularly once I discovered I could sign up to Eurosport/Discovery+ in 2012 or 13. The only other opportunities had been the annual Four Hills Tournament, which was televised by the BBC back in the 60s and 70s, and the Winter Olympics. Some names are enduring legends. Others have slipped by the wayside. By the time I was watching regularly again, I recognised the names of Noriaki Kasai, Stoch, Amman, Schlierenzauer (Japan, Poland, Switzerland and Austria respectively) from the Olympics, but the first pairs of jumpers I started ‘following’ were the Germans Freitag and Freund, and two Austrians, Mikki Hayboeck and Stefan Kraft.
They all had their successes. Freund won the World Cup in 2015 but an injury in 2017 put him out for two seasons, more or less, and he retired in 2022. Freitag sort of took over the leading German role until the current team came along, but his best result was an overall 2nd in the 2018 World Cup. His sister is doing well in the Women’s tour now. Hayboeck finished 2 and 3 in the Four Hills Tournament in 2015 and 2016 respectively. Mikki has been struggling with injury in the last few years. This season he has recovered his form and reached the podium again, coming third at Innsbruck at the start of this month.
Stefan, what was the biggest breakthrough in your ski jumping career?
I would say it was in 2013 at the Four Hills Tournament in Bischofshofen. At that time I came 3rd out of the national group at the tour final, and from then on I was a fixed part of the national team. But it is also important to me that we have done a good job overall with my long career. I have been working with my personal coach Patrick Murnig since I was 17 years old. Our goal – in addition to athletic goals – was to work on my personality. Some athletes really turn up the heat when they succeed and some fail when they feel the pressure of winning. We try to stay down to earth, show humility and respect, and enjoy it too.FischerSports (ski sponsor) https://www.fischersports.com/us_en/athletes/stefan-kraft
Kraft emerged from the pack in 2015 with 13 podiums, including 3 wins, which helped him to the Four Hills tournament that year. He had to wait till 2017 to win the overall World Cup, when he also won the Ski Flying World Cup (hill is twice the size, roughly, as the normal ones). He repeated that double in 2020, almost did it again in 2023 but came second in the overall. In 2022 he anchored the Austrian team to Gold at Beijing. He’s been suffering from a recurrent back injury since 2021, but lots of treatment and good training routines have got him back to his best. He is currently (13 Jan) leading the World Cup standings and was third in the Four Hills Tournament over the new year.
Ski jumping ‘family’
Ski jumpers come in all shapes and sizes, although the taller they are, the thinner they look – ski jumping is not for heavyweights! Hayboeck and Kraft epitomise this – tall gangly Hayboeck and practically elfin Kraft. It’s funny watching the jumpers take the podium: Kraft is almost always the shortest, and when he’s on position one, the second and third standing on their lower bases usually tower over him!
The teams seem to get on very well, and it’s a friendly sport with great atmosphere. The athletes are also very professional, including their online presences, and Kraft was kind enough to share pictures of his wedding, and his honeymoon the following summer, on Facebook. This relaxation in Bali was widely rumoured to be his secret to winning the first four competitions of the new season! He also shares his promotional activities for his sponsors, including tv appearances on programmes like the Austrian version of Saturday Morning chefs. He’s keen to promote healthy eating and also to promote his sport with young people. He gets involved with training camps with children (age 7-11 years) during the school holidays. Maybe other ski jumpers do the same, but I don’t follow them!
Why do I love watching ski jumping? It’s a beautiful sport. It’s virtually year round, although purists (like me) don’t consider the summer ski jumping on artificial slopes to be the real thing. But with climate change, they are paving the way for a continued winter sport on snowless slopes.
Here’s a video of Kraft’s winning jump in Engelberg, Switzerland, just before Christmas. (from YouTube)