Sounds and scenery: ski jumpers leap toward the future

Cheerful voices echo around the Araiyama Ski Jump Ground (Miyanomori, Chuo-ku, Sapporo) as autumn deepens. The sound of skis sliding down the approach gradually increases and, when it stops, a small ski jumper leaps into the sky.

The Sapporo Junior Jump Sports Club, based at the Araiyama Ski Jump Ground, was established immediately after the 1972 Sapporo Olympic Games. Next year will mark its 50th anniversary. So far, the team has produced jumpers such as Sato Yukiya (Megmilk Snow Brand) and Nakamura Naoki (Flying Laboratory), both of whom represent Japan in the World Cup and who aim to do so at the Beijing Winter Olympics.

“Ski jumping is not only a winter sport,” says Mr. Takehana, secretary of the junior club. Currently, there are 22 members – 14 elementary school pupils and eight junior high school students – who practice throughout the four seasons. Summer jumping, which involves landing on artificial grass, is safer than jumping on snow, and the club lends out skis and other equipment.

“It’s fun to feel the wind as you fly,” says Himeno Sota, 12, who has been competing for six years. He has practiced many times on the small jump hill, increasing his jumping distance. Flyers of the future continue to jump toward their dream of winning a medal at the Sapporo Olympics.

An athlete from the junior club jumps toward the blue sky (taken using a 360-degree camera). October 24, Sapporo


Araiyama Ski Jump Ground