On 7 February 2014, Jason Lamy-Chappuis will be the first French athlete to enter Sochi’s Olympic Stadium, as the proud flagbearer of his nation’s delegation. A few days later he will switch his attentions to the RuSski Gorki Jumping Center to begin the defence of his Olympic Nordic combined title, the first of three golds that the Frenchman will be hoping to win at Sochi 2014.
“The Olympic Games were something I’d dreamed about since I was a kid,” reflects Jason Lamy-Chappuis. “I grew up with my head full of images. The dream came true for me in 2006 when I competed in Turin, and then again four years later in Vancouver when I achieved my ultimate ambition.”
He has vivid memories of the moment when at the age of 19 he first announced his arrival on the Olympic stage, causing a major surprise as he finished fourth in the sprint, missing out on the podium by a mere 15 seconds. “That was a great debut,” he recalls. “There were no regrets as I’d given my all, and I was then able to look forward to the next Games knowing that over the following four years I would have time to mature and get stronger, and that would take me closer to my ultimate goal.”
Sure enough, his improvement curve over subsequent FIS World Cup campaigns was palpable. Blessed with excellent jumping technique, the Frenchman improved his physical strength and was soon recording some impressive victories. Already with one hand on the 2009-2010 Nordic Combined Crystal Globe by the time he arrived at Vancouver 2010, his Olympic love affair was consummated on Valentine’s Day when he got the better of an intense sprint duel with the USA’s Johnny Spillane to claim individual gold on the normal hill.
On top of the world
After that he embarked on a winning streak that saw him win the overall title in the Nordic Combined World Cup three seasons running (2009-2010, 2010-2011 and 2011-2012).He also claimed the 2011 World Championship title on the iconic large hill at Holmenkollen, Oslo, and two years later at the 2013 Worlds in Val di Fiemme he bagged a remarkable hat-trick of gold medals (in the 10km normal hill, team normal hill and team sprint). “I felt I had to do justice to my Olympic title. I had to keep my place as world number one, and that needed all my concentration. That gave me a great deal of pleasure,” he beams.
Looking ahead to Sochi, he is clear about his objectives: “I want to defend my Olympic title and get a podium finish with the team. I don’t care which event it happens in, it could be the large hill or the normal hill - I’ll take either! But the competition is going to be ferocious.”
Lamy-Chappuis, who is based in Bois-d’Amont in the heart of France’s Jura mountain range, but was actually born in Montana (USA) to an American mother and a French father, has mapped out a precise campaign plan to ensure he hits peak form in Russia: “My goal is to keep improving my performances in each World Cup stage,” he explains. “Hopefully, I’ll achieve some good results, which will be a good confidence booster, but I also plan to pace myself so I don’t use up too much energy.”
But before his thoughts turn to the competition, he has his starring role in the Opening Ceremony to look forward to “It will be a magical experience carrying the flag,” he says. “I’m going to make sure I take in every last detail. It will be unforgettable. And I don’t need to worry about using up too much energy, as I don’t compete in my first event until five days later.”
Whatever happens at RuSski Gorki, Lamy-Chappuis is determined to enjoy Sochi 2014 to the max. “These are the moments you live for. As athletes, our careers are punctuated by joy and disappointment. That’s what makes sport so beautiful.”
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