291m Ski Jump: Japanese great Ryōyū Kobayashi makes history with new World Record

Olympic Champion achieves bold lifetime goal in mastering Iceland’s natural terrain to shatter previous record by 37.5 meters.

Hlidarfjall Ski Resort, Akureyri, ICELAND, April 24, 2024 – On the morning of April 24, 2024, Japanese ski jumping star Ryōyū Kobayashi launched from a natural takeoff table in northern Iceland and flew for 291 meters before landing safely on the snow. A culmination of two grueling days of attempts, the feat set a new world record for longest ski jump. And while the spectacular setting evoked the roots of the sport, the distance rocketed ski jumping to new heights, smashing the previous record by a remarkable 37.5m.

The audacious achievement holds deep personal meaning for the athlete. Already one of ski jumping’s all-time greats, Kobayashi, 27, has dreamed of taking the sport to new levels ever since his childhood in Japan’s Iwate Prefecture. His relentless dedication to mastering his art has propelled him to the forefront; so far he has amassed 32 individual wins and two overall titles in the World Cup, individual gold and silver medals at the 2022 Olympics, and three overall titles in the iconic Four Hills tournament. 

But he was determined to make an even stronger statement for the sport, and to do it on natural terrain.

“This jump has been a dream of mine for a long time, as I’ve always wanted to jump farther than anyone ever has and I want to keep pushing the boundaries,” said Kobayashi, 27. 

Kobayashi’s long-held goal was unlike anything he, or any other ski jumper, had ever attempted – and his success is a testament to his ability to break barriers and defy expectations. While Kobayashi held the world’s second-longest ski jump with a personal best of 252m, none of the world’s existing ski flying hills could provide the physical conditions he needed for a bold attempt, or the wilderness backdrop he felt the sport deserved.

After a two-year search, the ideal site was discovered in Hlidarfjall Akureyri in northern Iceland. There, exclusively for the attempt, Kobayashi’s team devoted over two months to sculpting a snow ski jump table on the natural terrain that is 1,115 meters high at the start, descending across an altitude difference of 360 meters with a maximum gradient of 36 degrees. 

An important element in Kobayashi’s success was his collaboration with Prada Linea Rossa, one of the key partners supporting the athlete to achieve his ambitious goal in the unyielding environment of this remote location. Prada Linea Rossa’s advanced textile developments combine comfort and high-performance functionality, providing the athlete and core team members with functional clothing and accessories for the extended periods spent on the mountain.

Managing the extended takeoff and jump would require a level of physical precision and mental focus beyond anything Kobayashi had experienced. The athlete had been preparing for the intense challenge since 2023, including training at the Red Bull Athlete Performance Center in Austria, and he fine-tuned his position and stability with specific wind tunnel training in Sweden. 

Once in Iceland, Kobayashi began his attempts on April 23, and while he set one new record after another at 256m, then 259m and 282m, the athlete was hungry for something bigger. When he finally set his 291m mark on April 24, emotions were high. 

Janne Vaeaetaeinen, Kobayashi’s coach for the world record attempt, said, “It was a crazy couple of days and I have so many thoughts right now, but an amazing and very exciting result to see this come to life. It was hard to know what to expect for the first jump, and then a rollercoaster of emotions throughout.”

At home in Japan, Kobayashi is beloved not only for pulling off extraordinary jumps, but also as a model and a connoisseur of street fashion. Those two sides of the athlete’s character came together in the helmet he wore in Iceland, which was designed by the globally influential street fashion legend Hiroshi Fujiwara.

“My motivation also came from thinking about all the people involved in this project – to do it for everyone,” Kobayashi said. “I put everything on the line to go as far as possible in this incredible environment.” 

The jump in figures:
Kobayashi’s achievement set a new world record: longest ski jump (291m). Further, in over two centuries of recorded ski jump records, nearly all had been broken by just a few meters or less. None came remotely close to Kobayashi’s margin of 37.5m. The athlete reached a top speed of 107km/h at takeoff, and his time suspended in air was 8 seconds.

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Contact: Fabian Ress
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