Ammann warns over rule changes

Swiss Olympic ski jumping champion Simon Ammann has expressed concern about rule changes which he said would boost take-off speeds and make the sport less safe.


The International Ski Federation, worried that jumpers are leaping dangerously far, will next season boost the minimum body mass index required for athletes and shorten their skis.

This will reduce jumpers' aerodynamic profiles and cut the distances they can achieve.

But Ammann, who won the individual normal and large hill medals at the Games, said crowds wanted to see long jumps and competitors would have to take off faster.

"That's a problem for us ski jumpers because the speeds we have are quite high already ... when I jump on the big hill I land with a minimum speed of 125 km an hour," he said.

"When we get heavier and have less (ski) surface we are more ballistic. That means we have even more speed at the end and imagine landing at 135 km ... we have to find a way with the aerodynamics and speeds to make ski jumping safe."

When Ammann won Saturday's large hill title, his first jump was 144 metres, longer than the maximum safe distance of 140 metres. Hill slopes flatten out quickly at the bottom and landing beyond the safety limit can be dangerous.

"We have to have really serious discussions to see where ski jumping should go because everybody is asking for long jumps. People down there (at the bottom of the hill) are singing '145, 145'," the 28-year-old said.

Walter Hofer, the FIS director at the Games, said the rule changes were designed to protect jumpers.

"They will land earlier. It's safer. There's no chance of over jumping the hill ... we always try to keep the athletes inside the landing area," he said.

Changing the rules could also open up a sport dominated by a few men such as Ammann and Austria's Gregor Schlierenzauer, who are very light and can soar further than the rest.

"In general we don't want to change the performance. We want to give athletes a more competitive situation," Hofer said.

Ammann, his two heavy gold medals clanking together as he spoke to reporters, said he would definitely compete until next year's world championships in Oslo.

Asked about the chances of him appearing at the 2014 Games in Russia, he replied: "Oslo has always been a great place for me and if everything goes fine I will try to let it be with ski jumping but that's going to be really, really hard."

Follow the Winter Olympics 24/7 on British Eurosport (Sky 410 / Virgin 521) and EurosportHD (Sky 412). British Eurosport channels are streamed online via the Eurosport Player.

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