Tullin Thams soars with wind in his sails
The ski jumping competition, held at Le Mont hill, brought the inaugural Olympic Winter programme to a close, attracting thousands of fans to the foot of the Bossons glacier on 4 February for what was expected to be a marvellous contest between 27 competitors representing nine nations.
One of them, Jacob Tullin Thams, was a successful Norwegian skier who had developed his own jumping technique known as the Kongsberger, which involved bending the upper body at the hip and extending the arms at the front with the skis parallel to each other. This approach, which was gradually being adopted across the board, would enable jumpers to progressively draw nearer to the elusive 100m mark and eventually surpass it.
In the meantime, USA’s Anders Haugen recorded the longest jump (50m) in Chamonix, but Tullin Thams and his compatriot, Navre Bonna, also produced impressive efforts (both 49m). The Norwegian pair were judged to have exhibited more style in their jumps and thus picked up a higher number of points. Consequently, Tullin Thams was declared the winner with 18,960 points, ahead of Bonna (18,860 points) and Haugen (18,000).
After the competition, a jumping exhibition was organised in which the take-off ramp was elevated by 25m; Tullin Thams proceeded to jump 58.50m, which constituted an official world record at the time.
In 1926, he was crowned world champion in the individual large hill event in Lahti (FIN), prior to becoming the first ski jump specialist to win the illustrious Holmenkollen Medal, an annual award that recognises the top Nordic skier.
Following his retirement from the slopes, the trailblazing Norwegian turned his hand to sailing, and at the 1936 Olympic Games in Berlin, alongside countrymen Olaf and John Ditlev Simonsen, Hans Struknaes, Lauritz Schmidt and Nordahl Wallem, he landed a silver medal in the 8m event, behind a victorious Italian sextet. This remarkable result makes Tullin Thams one of just five athletes to have medalled in two different sports at the Summer and Winter Games, in addition to Edward Eagan (boxing and bobsleigh), Christa Luding (speed skating and track cycling), Clara Hughes (speed skating and road bicycle racing) and Lauryn Williams (athletics and bobsleigh).