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05 Feb 1956
Olympic News

Hyvärinen reaps reward with novel jumping technique

Born on 21 June 1932 in Rovaniemi (FIN), Antti Hyvärinen first represented Finland at Oslo 1952, where he took seventh place in the ski jumping (individual normal hill), a competition won by Arnfinn Bergmann (NOR). That victory continued Norway’s astonishing run in the discipline at the Games, where they had clinched all six of the Olympic titles in play since 1924, notably achieving one-two finishes in 1924, 1928 and 1952 and scooping all three medals in 1932 and 1948.

But changes were afoot that would eventually revolutionise the way in which competitors would carry out their jumps. At the start of the 1950s, Swiss jumper Andreas Däscher developed a completely new technique that, contrary to the prevailing Norwegian tactic of bending the upper body, with arms outstretched and skis together, involved keeping the body straight, leaning as far forward towards the skis as possible, with arms straight down by one’s side. This aerodynamic position significantly increased the distances skiers were capable of jumping.

In the final in Cortina, held on 5 February on the Italia jump, numerous participants adopted Däscher’s technique, including the Finns, Germans and Däscher himself, of course. The Norwegians, meanwhile, decided to preserve their traditional “Konsberger” technique, which would prove to be a costly mistake.

The competition was the very last on the Winter Games programme and would be immediately followed by the Closing Ceremony. Hyvärinen, 21st to jump, managed an initial effort of 81.00m that saw him occupy fourth place – behind compatriot Aulis Kallakorpi (83.50m), Germany’s Harry Glass (83.50m) and Däscher (83.0m) – prior to the second instalment.

The Rovaniemi native then produced the longest jump of the contest, 84.00m, outshining Kallakorpi and Glass, who both achieved 80.50m, and ensuring himself of the gold medal with a points total of 227. Kallakorpi (225 points) and Glass (224.50) completed the podium. It was Finland’s first Olympic ski jumping victory.

Däscher, indirectly responsible for this changing of the guard, ended up sixth. The highest-placed Norwegian was Sverre Stallvik, who finished ninth.

Later that year, Hyvärinen recorded a famous victory at the Holmenkollen Ski Festival. In November 1957, while training for the 1958 FIS World Championships, scheduled to take place in his homeland, he fell and damaged his hip so badly that he was forced to bring down the curtain on his career shortly afterwards. He did not cut ties with the sport altogether, though, going on to coach the Finnish ski jumping team from 1960 to 1964.

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