pushing limits. flying high.
Richard Freitag on the Fascination of Ski Jumping
8-second flight. Pure adrenaline.
When Richard Freitag talks about ski jumping his eyes light up. “It’s the combination of speed, height and distance that gives you a special kick,” says the athlete who won gold with the mixed team at the 2015 World Championship, and who also saw the light of day in the same hospital as ski jumping legends, Jens Weißflog and Sven Hannawald.
Ski jumping isn’t only about the sensation of flying or the feeling of freedom. It’s also about pushing boundaries and adrenaline.” On his days off it’s no surprise that the soldier from Saxony likes to ride his Yamaha R6 – a machine which can reach speeds of 250 km per hour.
I am driven to push my limits.
Only flying is better
When a ski jumper catapults himself off the large hill, he is airborne for about 8 seconds. Accelerating down the in-run he can reach speeds of over 90 km per hour. An active push for take-off, then it’s straight through the air – until the laws of physics force the jumper back down to earth.
“After pushing off, you try to bring your body into a position that creates the best lift,” explains Richard Freitag. “In ski jumping there is a moment when you feel yourself soar away from the slope. It’s this feeling which makes me love this sport. I think that only actually flying is better.”
According to Richard Freitag you sometimes get a couple of attempts when a ski jumper doesn’t make the distance. He recalls, “Last season I landed short at Engleberg and I banged the back of my head on the ground. Without my helmet, it could have been much worse.”
Freitag wears an uvex race carbon helmet and downhill 2000 S goggles. He is grateful that uvex engineers and developers invest their experience and know-how in new technologies. Happy that the products are tested in the laboratory. “You could never ask someone to jump from the third floor and land on their head, to test whether a helmet really protects.”Without a helmet it could have been much worse.
Without a helmet it could have been much worse.
Richard Freitag on jumps, head and air
When do you realise it’s going to be a good jump?
On a small hill you can feel it will be a good jump the moment you come off the edge. On the large hill you can have a superb lift-off, yet the jump can still get trashed. However, the reverse is also true – a successful flight phase can turn a poor lift-off into a long distance.
How important is your head in your sport?
Your head plays a crucial role in ski jumping. When you are sitting at the top, you need to be totally focussed. Travelling down an in-run at 92 km per hour you have just two tenths of a second to jump, at exactly the right moment. You need to be able to switch between training and competition, and recall what you’ve learnt at exactly the right moment. And, your power output must be perfect, even if you are nervous.
We have a fraction of a second to jump, at exactly the right moment.
Are there differences in atmospheric conditions when ski jumping?
Air is not the same everywhere. You can feel differences in altitude. In Sapporo, Japan we are almost at sea level. There, air density is higher and it feels heavier. There are also differences between summer and winter. Summer air feels like it could carry you further. At least, these are the perceived differences.