Going 90 metres up to find new heroes
But try going up to the top of the ski jump, that concrete birdsnest way way up in the sky, and then tell me the ski jumpers aren’t the most completely nutty of the bunch.
My hero used to be the guy who ate the first oyster, but maybe now it’s ski jumpers in general.
I took the chairlift up to the 90-metre starting point today at Whistler Olympic Park. Walked out across the steel mesh walkway suspended above the mountain, never letting go of the handrails, until reaching the start house, which is about the size of a two-car garage, with a little balcony/walkway kind of thing all the way around.
This, mind you, was not even the big guy, the 120-metre hill. This was “only’ the little jump and let’s just say if anyone wanted to make big dough, he could open a life insurance stand right there at the starting point and sell to tourists.
It’s scarier than Elin Nordegren’s divorce lawyer, and particularly frightening if you don’t like heights, which is another issue entirely. It gets even worse if you throw in some hard-blowing mountain wind and big, thick snowflakes that slicken up the walkways and trim visibility. The downward ramp itself seems so incredibly and stupidly steep, even though the actual ski jumping, in which the athletes seem to be no more than about 15 feet off the ground almost the entire way, apparently isn’t that dangerous.
Just don’t try telling that to someone at the top of the jump for the first time.
Everyone always remembers that Wide World Of Sports opening scene from decades ago, where that ski jumper crashed and rag-dolled, although they always said he wasn’t hurt. A guy making a visit to the top of the jump thinks to himself, “Well, he was surely crazy even to be up there in the first place.’’
Omega, the timepiece company, was giving tours of its time-keeping facilities, including the start and judges’ stand at the ski jumping. That was the admission ticket to the scariest sports location in town. It’s one of those things you’re happy to do. Once.