Whistler hill 'too perfect'

The ultra-modern Whistler ski jumping hill is too perfect for the athletes and not enough is left to chance, according to the man who manages it.


The hill features refrigerated ice tracks, a glycol cooling system and different covers to keep off the elements but Jon Servold regrets some of the ways jumping conditions have improved over the last 15 years.

Servold said technological advances meant the conditions were the same for every jumper and were also easier.

"It makes it almost artificial. It's too perfect," he said.

Athletes at the Winter Games say they love the large and normal jumps, which are free of the usual aggravations like wind, changing temperatures and sudden snow or rain that can foul up the run leading down to the take-off point.

The complex cooling machinery ensures the grooves cut into the in-run are the same for everyone. Insulated covers keep the sun at bay while tarpaulins protect against snow and rain.

If it snows during a competition, a dozen volunteers with large green air blasters blow it out of the grooves after each jump.

"Before, it took more skill to get to the jump-off. You needed to stay balanced and be aggressive," said Servold, whose father took part in the sport when athletes wore woollen sweaters and baggy trousers rather than modern body-hugging suits.

But in 1995 the authorities decided that grooves should be cut into the in-run to ensure jumpers made it to the take-off point without too many problems.

"Any jumper who competed in the 1990s will say jumpers now are totally spoiled," Servold said. "A skill factor has been totally removed."

The jumpers themselves, however, are happy.

"The hill is perfect," said Austria's Gregor Schlierenzauer who won bronze in the normal hill event on Saturday.

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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