Małysz to Fly Tonight

Małysz will jump again on Saturday in the large hill event of the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympic Games. It looked as if the event at one point would be clouded in controversy if Simon Ammann were to use the same gear he wore when he won the gold in last weekend’s normal hill jump competition. The Austrian team threatened to protest the use of the type of bindings that Ammann used last week as being unsafe and giving the Swiss jumper an unfair advantage.

The Austrians insisted that the bindings allow jumpers to tilt their skis too sharply upward, parallel with the body, allowing the jumper to sail further. The specific type was not approved by the International Ski Federation (FIS) prior to the normal hill competition. After a day of speculation over the possibility of Ammann being stripped of his gold for using unapproved gear, the FIS has made it clear that any protest will not be recognised, granting approval to the bindings Thursday. Małysz himself attributes Ammann’s success to his excellent form and talent, and the Polish team has dismissed the allegations as frivolous and stated that it had no intention to support any protest.

This event represents Malysz’s best shot at a gold medal, but to get it he will have to outfly Ammann, who was the gold medallist in last week’s normal hill and who beat Małysz out for the gold last time they both medalled, in Salt Lake City in 2002. If Ammann wins, he will be the only ski jumper ever to take four individual gold medals in the sport.

Both Małysz and Ammann, along with other top contenders Thomas Morgenstern and Gregor Schlierenzauer of Austria, were prequalified and therefore exempt from Friday’s qualification round. Japan’s Noriaki Kasai was number one in the qualification round, with a jump of 142.5 metres, but both Ammann and Małysz have jumped longer distances in training jumps over the last two days; Małysz soared 144 metres on Thursday.

The large hill event will be broadcast live on Saturday starting at 20:30 CET on TVP 1, TVP HD, TVP Sport, Eurosport, and Eurosport HD.

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