Material control in ski jumping has always been controversial - which suit just fits, which one exceeds the permitted dimensions? According to one report, however, the inspectors are being tricked in droves. An anonymous World Cup jumper explains how it works.
Apparently, ski jumping is threatened with a serious scandal. The focus is once again on the material, more precisely the suits, the dimensions of which are strictly regulated. But an insider now unpacks and claims that despite these strict guidelines, people rarely look very closely. "At the moment I can't take the suit controls seriously," a ski jumper who is still active is quoted as saying by the Swiss "Blick". However, the newspaper leaves open who it is.
Meanwhile, it is clear that the athlete went long-distance ski flying at the Kulm last weekend and also flouted the rules. "The volume was too big," the ski jumper admitted when asked that the dimensions of his suit were not within the normal range. There are actually clear guidelines as to how much space there can be between the body and the material - the limit is said to have been exceeded with him. Nevertheless, he passed the control without any problems.
According to the report, a simple trick is helpful, which is apparently enough to overturn the system: "I pull the suit up so that there is temporarily much more material on my shoulders." In this way he achieves that the required leg length is maintained, but de facto has more volume in the step when jumping, which clearly favors a long flight. The fit in the crotch is therefore always a topic of discussion, because an air cushion can form there.
"Practically everyone cheats, I have to go along with that, otherwise I don't have a chance," the athlete downplayed his trickery and at the same time revealed that the ski jumping scene is said to be playing regularly with marked cards - probably also because the associations been idle for too long. "We should have taken action earlier. Now the inspectors are powerless, otherwise they would have to disqualify half the starting field," the anonymous whistleblower is certain.
Surprisingly, this thesis is supported by the Swiss coach Martin Künzle. He makes no secret of the fact that the rules are deliberately stretched a bit. "If you look at the other suits that don't appear compliant but pass the controls, you have to act," he said. In the meantime, they are also going “to the limit and beyond, as long as it goes through”. Specifically, the Swiss jumper Gregor Deschwanden is mentioned, who achieved significantly better results as a result of the adjustments.
"Blick" followed up and confronted Christian Kathol with the statements. The material boss of the international ski jumping association is well aware of the problems. The measurements are currently being carried out manually and therefore cannot always be “100 percent precise”, and there is a lack of staff and time to “completely” check all jumpers, explained Kathol. He can currently examine "maximum 80 to 85 percent" of the athletes and suits in detail.
If all athletes of a top nation, which has seven starters in the field, started with irregular suits, "two or three athletes can get away with it," said Künzle in this context. A statement that appears embellished in view of the explosive revelations. However, improvement is in sight. In the future, they want to rely on electronic measurements and a trimmed set of rules should make the controls less complicated. The text concludes with Blick's statement that material control remains "the biggest mystery in ski jumping".
(This article was first published on Friday, February 03, 2023.)