Senior Editor

The Inertia

On April 24, Japanese ski jumper Ryōyū Kobayashi made history when he broke the world record for longest ski jump. He didn’t just break it, though… he smashed it. Kobayashi beat the previous record by 37.5 meters, or 123 feet.

Kobayashi, who is just 27 years old, is already cemented in the record books: according to Red Bull, “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.”

As you’d expect, Kobayashi didn’t just show up and throw himself off a massive jump. The project took a long time. The first hurdle was simply finding the right location. A place with the right slope, the right length, and weather that would allow the attempt. After a pile of research and two years of searching, they settled on Hlidarfjall Ski Resort in Iceland and got to work.

For the next two months, Kobayashi’s team built a ski jump table on the unique natural terrain. It was an astonishing 1,115 meters (3658 feet) high at the top, then dropped down a little over 1,100 feet in altitude over a 36 degree slope.

“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.

In the lead up to the attempt, Kobayashi began training at the Red Bull Athlete Performance Center in Austria to fine tune his body positioning and stability with the help of a wind tunnel. Once he was ready and the jump was too, he and the his team headed to Iceland.

It was April 23, 2024 and over the course of the next 48 hours, Kobayashi would set one new record after another at 256 meters, then 259 meters, then 282 meters. But he wasn’t done just yet and he set his sights on the 291-meter mark, which is a hair over 951 feet.

“It was a crazy couple of days and I have so many thoughts right now,” Janne Vaeaetaeinen, Kobayashi’s coach, said, “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.”

Although Kobayashi will certainly get the lion’s share of recognition, he’s aware that it was a team effort.

“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.”

In over 200 years of ski jump records, nearly all have been broken just a few feet. “None came remotely close to Kobayashi’s margin of 37.5m,” Red Bull wrote. “The athlete reached a top speed of 107km/h at takeoff, and his time suspended in air was eight seconds.”


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