A Pole apart
Polish ski jumper Kamil Stoch will always look back with affection on 2014, a year in which he claimed two Olympic golds and an FIS World Cup title.
Home is where the heart is
Kamil Stoch was born and brought up in Zakopane, a well-known ski resort in southern Poland, tucked away in the heart of the Tatra Mountains. The young Pole has a special relationship with his home hill, the location of his World Cup debut as a 16-year-old in January 2004, and also the site of his first win seven years later, a victory he reprised in 2012, following up with third place a year later.
After making little impact at his first two Olympic appearances at Turin 2006 and Vancouver 2010, Stoch began to get himself noticed in 2011, playing an increasingly prominent role in the FIS World Cup before pulling out jumps of 131.5m and 130m to win the individual large hill world title at Val Di Fiemme in February 2013. “My life isn’t going to change,” he said modestly after being chaired off the hill in triumph. “I’ve finally reached a goal and achieved one of my dreams. It’s great to have done that.”
Sochi part one
The Pole arrived at Sochi 2014 as the leader of the FIS World Cup (which he would go on to win for very first time), and immediately stamped his authority in the final of the men’s normal hill at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Centre. His first jump of 105.5m put him over six points clear of his closest pursuers, Anders Bardal of Norway and Slovenia’s Peter Prevc. Proving he was in a class of his own, Stoch then went out and jumped 103.5m to land his first Olympic title with plenty to spare ahead of silver medallist Prevc and third-placed Bardal.
Sochi part two
A few days later the flying Pole became only the third ski jumper in history to win both individual events, emulating the achievements of Finland’s Matti Nykanen in 1988 and Switzerland’s Simon Ammann in 2002 and 2010. “It’s amazing. It’s like a dream come true. I can’t believe it,” said the 26-year-old, who overcame tricky winds to pip Japanese veteran Noriaki Kasai to the large hill title by a mere 1.3 points. “I made such a big mistake in the second round, I don’t know how I jumped so far,” said the man from Zakopane after writing his name into the history books. ”I was too aggressive. That’s why I flew so far, but hey, what the heck? That’s why I won.”