There are pros and cons to success. Kobayashi Ryoyu may be dealing with more of the latter at the moment.
After a flagship season in which he won the Olympic Games Ski Jumping gold in Beijing and his second FIS World Cup men’s overall title, Kobayashi’s career took off like one of his great leaps.
Awards. Exposure. Money. Hobbobing with celebrities. Kobayashi has become the face of Japanese winter athletes, as has another ski jumper Takanashi Sara, snowboard star Hirano Ayumu, nordic combination‘s Watabe Akito and figure skating‘s Hanyu Yuzuru.
The 26-year-old Kobayashi is on a mission to popularize ski jumping and has certainly done his part on and off the pitch. He wants to prescribe Peter Preczsingle-season World Cup record of 15 wins.
“I’m definitely getting more attention than I used to,” Kobayashi said ahead of the start of the 2022-23 campaign. “Hopefully I can keep up the pace.”
But the fruits of Kobayashi’s labor may have come at a price – namely, time.
Since everyone wanted a piece of Kobayashi, he was unable to train at the pace he had in the past. In the summer before Beijing 2022, he made about 300 jumps. In the summer it dropped to 100.
If practice makes perfect, Kobayashi can’t argue. In the current season, he has not yet stood on the podium and has not finished higher than the seventh place. In the last competition in Engelberg, Switzerland, he missed the second attempt for the second time this season.
“I think I did really well last season, so I want more of the same in the new season. I didn’t work on anything special over the summer.
“Last summer I didn’t jump as much as in the past, so I haven’t been successful yet. Hopefully I’ll be able to get it to where I need it by the winter. I want to win the overall title again this season.”
No doubt Kobayashi is in good company. He is one of only three jumpers to have swept Four Hills Tournament, doing so in the 2018-19 season and for almost the second time last season he achieved a historic “grand slam” – but finished fifth in the last of four events in Bischofshofen, Austria.
Since the 4-Hills starts again on Thursday (December 29) in Oberstdorf, Germany, Kobayashi may not be in his best shape. But what should keep him sane under the eyes of the world is his laid-back personality. Not to mention the talent that has earned him 27 World Cup victories, more than any other Japanese.
“It’s important to me not to try too hard. That’s the key,” said Kobayashi. “I try not to demand too much of myself when it comes to results.
“I want to really enjoy jumping.”