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Winter Olympics countdown: Japanese ski jump veteran Noriaki Kasai

09 Jan 2014
Lausanne, Switzerland: Despite turning 41 in 2013, Japanese ski jumping legend Noriaki Kasai shows no signs of slowing down.A fixture on the global circuit since 1989, he has appeared in more World Cup events and Olympic Games than any other ski jumper in history. The Sochi Winter Olympics next month will be his seventh.

On 24 August 2013, some 24 years on from his international debut, Kasai won the FIS Ski Jumping Grand Prix on Hakuba’s Olympic HS-131 hill, in his native Japan. Reacting to the win he said: “It’s been two years since my last victory. I was in my thirties then, and now I’m in my forties, which makes me even happier and shows that I can still compete with the best in the world. It gives me a lot of confidence.” 

While preparing for his seventh Olympic Games in Sochi, the evergreen Japanese was asked why he continues to compete. The answer was brief but revealing: “Because I haven’t won a gold medal yet.” 

Since making his world championship debut in Lahti, Finland, in 1989 and appearing in his first FIS World Cup event in Thunder Bay, Canada, in December the same year, Kasai has competed at the Worlds 11 times, as well as 427 World Cup competitions and six Olympic Games, recording 15 individual wins and 44 podium finishes.

“I love ski jumping and I’m not ready to stop doing it yet,” he vows, expressing a love that is reciprocated by his army of fans around the world, which will surely grow in number come February 2014.

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