When a wuss becomes a ski jumper

So. I’ve always been a little bit ahead of my time. Like now, for instance: I’m in-between my thirties and forties and I feel like I’m going through a mid-life-crisis in my fifties. Ya know, when when you get a motorcycle or a pair of lycra pants and a bicycle and go speeding the roads. Oh, it’s the speed, the feeling you’re alive, right?! 

And the feeling when you see your whole life flashing before your eyes…

Yes, this is serious. Mid-life-crisis of the fifties when you are only thirty-something.

I don’t know what’s gotten wrong with me. Usually when you get older you become more careful and start fearing everything. Mothers often say it hits when you get babies and you can feel first hand how fragile life is.

But no, not me. I’m the opposite.

When I was child, I was a wuss. An artist. I would do my theatre and sing and play the cello and was afraid of e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g. When I got little older, everything in my life was well planned and controlled – oh, the feeling of certainty!

In 1989 my mom gave me a painting: Snoopy the cartoon character has just jumped down from the roof a doghouse and goes: ”You gotta learn to not fear in life”. I hated the painting because I thought my mom would think I was too afraid to do things.

I wasn’t afraid. I was a wuss.

But then somewhere in-between my thirties and forties something clicked in my head and I realized life was too short to be afraid or to be a wuss. And now I’m having the mid-life-crisis which I should be having in my fifties. If I was a man. I mean, it can’t be else. Why would I do this if something wasn’t seriously wrong with me?

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So when you now ask me what goes on in ones mind before the first ski-jump of their life, that’s about it. All of the words above run through my head as I stand on the top of the K6 ski jump hill and look down. K6 means the critical point that determines the size of the hill. If a ski jumper jumps more than 6 meters, he gets points, and if less, points will be reduced. That’s all I know from Wikipedia, don’t ask more about that…

But, K6, anyways. Six meters.

I’ve promised to do a ski jump. Somewhere in-between my thirties and forties I got a ground braking idea to start blogging and accepting challenges; anyone could challenge me to do something crazy and I would promise to accept it, study my physical and mental limits while in action and writing to you about it all. I’ve lived in Norway for some months and worked in fishing industry, been on a roller coster from hell, cycled 350 kilometers in three days and ahead lies a hiking challenge of 250 km in 3 three days. Just to name a few.

But first, let’s just get this over with. The ski jump.

Lahti Ski Games, the pregame to the Nordic World Ski Championships of 2017 that will be held in Finland. A year ago in February I was standing on the top of the biggest ski jump tower in Lahti when invited to watch the 2016 games. And there I said it out loud; how cool would it be to get to jump. To try if I could. And what one says out loud, one tends to get. Some time after that I got the challenge from the Lahti2017 organization. That’s how it goes.

The challenges was accepted in August and I had half a year to practice but it’s come down to this: the games are held in three weeks and until today I have zero hours of practice.

But hey, in Finland we have this thing called ”lahjattomat treenaa” – the ones with no talent are the ones who need practice…

And I’m not untalented. I’m just… a wuss.

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”Let’s just get this over with”, I silently say to myself and even more silently cross my fingers when I step into the locker room. The sanctuary of the ski jumpers. Silent I am because soon this will get noisy!

Groan. That’s the first noise.

I’m groaning and trying to fit into a ski jump suit. It’s yellow and looks like the winning kind. These dudes are small, I realize while trying to fit my shoulders in this thing that resambles a commando suit.

”Flat and wide, that’s the optimal body type of a ski jumper”, says Tami Kiuru, a former ski jumper and the sport chief of the Lahti2017 organization while watching me trying to fit in my commando. He seems slightly amused. The first suit won’t fit me. Gotta take the black, it’s the biggest one.

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Tami, Kai and myself.

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Tami will be my coach today. We have quite a team; the other coach of mine is the best woman ski jumper Julia Kykkänen and the third Kai Lahtinen of the Lahti Ski Club.

Lahti Ski Games held in February 2016 will celebrate the woman ski jumpers. It’ll be the first time women will have their own competition at these games. I won’t be joining these ladies, though. I have my own little spot to do my jump after the flashlights go off.

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Julia is standing in front of my skis trying to stop them slip off while I’m groaning again and trying to fasten my skis. Not easy. Kai is crouching next to me and trying to teach me the right ski jump position.

Now Julia is crouching next to me doing some weird movement.

And me, I ask my coaches how much swearing is too much swearing. I need to scream some swear words since my legs are hurting as hell. I mean, I HAVE been on the skis for five minutes already…

One after another very unpleasant phases follow. Disbelief, fear, screams, Tami, Kai, Julia, wet snow from the sky, wet gloves, tears…

So when you now ask me what a ski jump practice is like, that’s about it. All of the above. Unpleasant phases.

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”You just go ahead, fly through and let the gravity take care of the rest.”

That’s the second noise. Tami.

Now I’m on the top of the K6 and am supposed to do the first real jump. We’ve done the practice going down the hill and it’s time to add the ramp to the game.

In a way this is kinda stupid; the ramp is not that big. But THAT BIG is the terrible noise inside my head when I’m trying to make myself go.

Noise.

That’s the third noise.

The grand and silent fight inside the head, in which one goes through the birth and the death, the sense and the senselessness, the in-between of ones thirties and forties and the mid-life-crisis of the fifties. The fear and the wusses. The paintings their mother gives one. For a long time after the jump I still can’t understand why my head won’t let me go. I just can’t make myself move even though I guess I’ve done some harder slides on skis before. It must be the one additional element. The ramp. The knowledge that I’m supposed to perform a SKI-JUMP. When my head says I’m about to do something new and something unknown lies ahead. Something I just have no experience of. When I don’t have a clue from previous life of how this will turn out.

This is the most fascinating part of my challenges. The moment I get to know what really goes on in my mind when I’m doing something unpredictable and stepping out of my comfort zone. The more I think, the faster I just want to turn back. And then, at some point I just have to make the decision of either going or giving up. I have to turn off the noise.

No. Actually, let me correct. This is the most fascinating part of my challenges: when I get the switch in my head turned off, let go and realize how easy it all was. Happens every time. When I realize how much of the noise in my head was unnecessary.

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AAAAAAAHHHHH.

That’s the fourth noise.

I put my skis on the tracks and let them slide down. AAAAAAHHHHH and I’m on the ground.

So when you now ask me how it feels to do the first ski jump of your life, that’s about it.

The excitement just wipes off all thoughts in my head. I’ve really managed to turn the switch off and don’t remember a thing about the jump. It’s only the burning pain on my thighs. I haven’t fallen, I’m standing through the whole jump but now, all of a sudden feeling an urgent need to fall down. Too much pain.

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When I’ve I’ve done all my six jumps and sitting on the cold ground I can’t remember at all where I’m at, where I’m going or supposed to do when I get home. It’s all swiped off. And the deodorant, swiped off too. Sweat runs under my commando suit.

Off comes Heta, 6. Number six not referring to to the size of the hill but to the age of this girl. A six-year-old girl comes to show me how it’s done. She goes straight to the K15.

Heta’s mom tells me that the night before there have bee 11 kids jumping. That warms my heart. Maybe this means we have a new generation of ski jumper growing because unfortunately the once so popular sport in Finland has not been interesting that much or that many people in the recent years. It’s been hard to get new people involved in the sport both athletes and the big audience to watch it. Kai, Tami and Julia are sad that the municipality has put down some hills. They all have started their careers in ski-jump just playing with their friends.

But now we’ve got Heta and soon the women’s competition in Lahti. Maybe the future lies in us ladies? I wish to have all my girlfriends to come to the games both now in 2016 and and the WC’s in 2017. Together we will make the sport rise again, right?! And now on the upcoming Sunday you can already buy the tickets to the WC’s of 2017 as the tickets come on sale!

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Julia, me and Tami

 

But now me my team are taking the official group photo. We did good. K6, quite well done for a first-timer, this will be a good start. We say our goodbyes with Julia, she’s off to Germany for her next competition.

I step into the locker room with my head all messed up of my jumps and almost drowning in my black commando suit, so sweaty I am. Next jumper is waiting for my suit. We have to share them since there are not so many big one for us amateurs. I take off the suit and mumble my excuses for the sweatiness of it and then rise my head about to say some wise-ass advice for the next jumper – only since I’m such an experienced jumper now.

Heikki Kovalainen. One of the worlds leading Formula 1 drivers is standing in front of me. He is jumping after me since he’s just been announced to be one of the official supporters of the Lahti 2017 World Championships and that’s part of his promotion job.

I decide not to give any wise-ass advice to him. Think he’ll do without them.

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Me and Heikki Kovalainen

 

So when you now ask who’s been test driving Heikki Kovalainen’s ski-jump commando suit, that’s about… me!

And now when you ask me how it is to ski-jump, that’s about all I have to say about for now, until my next jump! Loved it all the way. This is only the beginning, K15 awaits!

And you know, having the mid-life-crisis of the fifties here somewhere in-between my thirties and forties, is not too bad. Makes you sweat.

/Maija, a proud ski-jumper-to-be

Thank you for joining me on my first adventure in English! If you wish, I will continue blogging in English too. Just let me know if you want to follow my adventures in the future, too. My ski-jump adventure continues, and of that, at least, I promise to report in English too! And hey, because I’m Finnish, there might be some mistakes in the grammar, but we don’t mind that, do we 🙂

And come follow me on Instagram @maijailmoniemi to see a short video clip of my first jump! 

 

This blog also in Finnis, here.

Mainokset

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