Ever since Switzerland’s Simon Ammann
won double gold at the Salt Lake 2002 Games,
he’d been trying to shed the Harry Potter nick-
name, earned because of his round glasses and
cherubic face. And while Ammann did bear
some resemblance to the fictional wizard, he had
long-since tired of the comparison.
But Ammann was no kid anymore when he
flew to gold at Whistler Olympic Park during
the normal hill ski jumping competition. He
had seen firsthand the ups and downs of being
a young Olympic champion, and now well into
adulthood, he wanted to be measured for his
worth, not his mirth.
On Feb. 13 he pulled off a pair of exquisite
jumps of 105 and 108 meters to win the first gold
of the Games; his total points were 276.5.
“It’s unbelievable that eight years later I am
back here, with a lot of confidence and energy
and strength; I was ready,” said Ammann. “Eight
years ago, it was very different. I was fresh and I
had no memory of previous events. Today I have
all the memories of my long career.”
Don’t think it was clear sailing for the older
and wiser Ammann to win the gold. He had to
get by jumpers including Finland’s Janne Aho-
nen, Poland’s popular Adam Malysz, (who skied
to silver with 269.5 total points) and the bronze
medalist, Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer, a
20-year-old prodigy in his first Olympic Winter
Schlierenzauer — who won both test events
here last year, and had a leap of 107 meters in
training — had one long second jump of 106.5.
His first was “only” 101.5. Ahonen, still seek-
ing his first Olympic gold, finished just out of
the medals in fourth, while German Michael
Uhrmann was fifth.
Malysz said he was very satisfied. “It was a
strong competition for me, and my jumps were
very, very good,” said Malysz, adding that he was
having so much fun he might return next sea-
son, apparently nixing his much talked about
In a point spread that had the top 10 separated
by only some 20. 5 points, the normal hill contest
was very, very close as the world’s top flyers gave
no quarter in the competition.