The Ottumwa Courier

AP Sports

February 12, 2014

SOCHI SCENE: Don't look down

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — When an Olympic official offers to take you backstage at the games, you don't think twice, especially when backstage means climbing to the very top of the ski jump hill.

Holy moly. This is steep.

The women jumpers, cool cats that they are, were perfectly at home here at the top of the ramp, clipping on ski boots, adjusting helmets and shooting the breeze without the slightest regard for the intense, giddy drop-off below our feet.

And me? Well, I gripped the hand rail for dear life. Ugh.

"Follow me," said my guide, ski federation jumping director Walter Hofer, leading the way down narrow metal stairs right next to the icy jumping chute. Really? Must we?

But, wow, what a mind-blowing experience. As we descended — Hofer as surefooted as a mountain goat, me weak-kneed like a cow on ice — jumpers hurtled past us one after another, within arm's reach.

From a sitting start, the women accelerate from 0 to 90 kilometers (55 miles) per hour in about 5 seconds, Hofer explained. At that speed, they have no more than 150 milliseconds at the bottom of the ramp to time their jump to perfection. They must be able to sense when the moment is right: "You have to feel it."

We waited at the foot of the chute for another jumper to take the plunge, craning our necks upward. She hurled herself into the void, her skis rumbling to a roar on the track as she picked up speed.

Then — whoosh! — she took off right in front of us. We marveled in the ethereal silence as she flew, flew, flew — close to 100 meters — and then landed. Often, the skis make a gunshot-like crack! when they slap hard against the snow.

The point Hofer wanted to make in showing me all this up close was that ski jumping is a beautiful sport. Listen to this recording of the jumper taking off, and I'm sure you will agree.

Pure adrenaline.

Hear here:

— By John Leicester — Twitter


Associated Press reporters are filing dispatches about happenings in and around Sochi during the 2014 Winter Games. Follow AP journalists covering the Olympics on Twitter:

Text Only
AP Sports
  • Baseball Capsules OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) — Brandon Moss hit a grand slam and the Oakland Athletics gave Jeff Samardzija more run support Thursday than he has had all season in a 13-1 victory over the Houston Astros. Jed Lowrie had three hits and drove in a run for the A

    July 25, 2014

  • Padres Cubs Baseball-6 [Duplicate] Padres rout Cubs 11-3 CHICAGO (AP) — You would never know the San Diego Padres have the lowest team batting average in the major leagues by the way they hit against the Chicago Cubs and starter Edwin Jackson. The light-hitting Padres broke out for a season-best nine runs

    July 25, 2014 4 Photos

  • Bears Emery Football [Duplicate] Bears aiming high in Year 2 under Trestman BOURBONNAIS, Ill. (AP) — This time last year, Chicago Bears coach Marc Trestman was still something of a curiosity. He was a guy leading an NFL team for the first time as training camp started, plucked from Canada after spending several years out of

    July 25, 2014 3 Photos

  • Vikings Camp Football-3 [Duplicate] Punished Priefer: 'I went way below the bar' MANKATO, Minn. (AP) — The Minnesota Vikings could hardly hold training camp without some kind of controversy or sideshow. This version came with quite the twist: special teams coordinator Mike Priefer in the spotlight. As players unpacked their vehic

    July 25, 2014 3 Photos

  • FIFA rejects calls to strip Russia of World Cup ZURICH (AP) — FIFA has rejected calls to move the 2018 World Cup from Russia, saying the tournament "can achieve positive change." Russia's alleged involvement in shooting down a Malaysia Airlines plane over Ukraine last week prompted calls from some

    July 25, 2014

  • Padres Cubs Baseball [Duplicate] Wada struggles as Cubs fall 8-3 to Padres CHICAGO (AP) — When asked through a translator if he was nervous in his second big-league start, Tsuyoshi Wada said simply, "Yes." It showed as Wada (0-1) allowed five runs on five hits and four walks in four-plus innings in an 8-3 loss to San Diego

    July 24, 2014 5 Photos

  • Rays Cardinals Baseball-3 [Duplicate] Cobb outduels Lynn, Tampa Bay beats St. Louis 3-0 ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis right-hander Lance Lynn was at the top of his game on Wednesday night. So was Tampa Bay right-hander Alex Cobb and the Rays beat the Cardinals 3-0. Lynn gave up one earned run over 6 1-3 innings and continued a streak of fo

    July 24, 2014 3 Photos

  • Manchester United Galaxy Soccer-9 [Duplicate] Man United buries Galaxy 7-0 in Van Gaal's debut PASADENA, California (AP) — Manchester United made an impressive debut under coach Louis van Gaal on Wednesday night, with Wayne Rooney scoring twice late in the first half of a 7-0 friendly victory over the LA Galaxy. Ashley Young and defender Reece

    July 24, 2014 6 Photos

  • Baseball Capsules SEATTLE (AP) — Bartolo Colon came within seven outs of a perfect game, giving up a single to Robinson Cano with two outs in the seventh inning, and the New York Mets held off a late rally to beat the Seattle Mariners 3-2 on Wednesday. The 41-year-old

    July 24, 2014

  • Rays Cardinals Baseball-6 [Duplicate] Wainwright stumbles, Cards lose 7-2 to Rays ST. LOUIS (AP) — Adam Wainwright felt he owed the St. Louis fans an apology after Tuesday night's 7-2 loss to Tampa Bay. The Cardinals' right-hander, fresh off a start for the National League in the All-Star game, completely fell apart in the fifth i

    July 23, 2014 4 Photos

AP National