Finnish ski jumping and combined sports director Mika Kojonkoski60, admits the debate over jumpers’ costumes is unlikely to end in his lifetime.
– In 3D measurement, it is not a big change, but with this method, the aim is to better control the size of the suit. FIS’s goal is to guarantee equal opportunities for all athletes and all countries, says Kojonkoski, chairman of the Ski Jumping Committee of the International Ski Federation (FIS).
Kojonkoski explains that the purpose of the innovation is to get to a simpler body measurement and then gradually to an established level, so that the suit could be measured with the help of 3D, always on the jumper.
According to Kojonkoski, the goal is to no longer need to use a tape measure. Otherwise, according to him, FIS needs an army of surveyors again.
– The measuring tape for measuring the human body and suit has a thousand points, or at least as many points as you want to measure. It’s really challenging, especially when teams and countries want to be creative and the best in everything. Brainstorming to move things forward is much greater than the power of control, Kojonkoski hints at the idealization of manipulation.
Kojonkoski emphasizes that when it comes to controlling ski jumping suits, it is always a question of a reasonably demanding playing field and resources.
– I believe in 3D measurement, but it is by no means ready yet. It has now been possible to take basic measurements, which are more reliable than before. Is there still room there (in the suits) and are they completely reliable for manipulation, that is a question that needs to be looked at carefully in the future.
According to Kojonkoski, the more control and the more rules are made, the more creative the teams and athletes become.
– One truth here is that ski jumping is a very, very sensitive sport. When we are talking about a speed of almost 100 kilometers and flying 100 meters, then very small things matter. In such a frame of reference, we try to make hill jumping as fair as possible for the athletes, explains Kojonkoski.
Sports expert Janne Ahonen has stated that if you compare the roughest suits with those that are absolutely compliant with the rules, the difference in Suurmäki is easily 15–20 meters. Ahonen believes that costume cheating is the sport’s biggest problem, and even doping pales next to it.
Herola solves the problem areas of 3D
The combined Finnish trump card Ilkka Herola tells how his body measurements were taken at the summer season event.
– In it, you stand on a rotating platform where the human body spins around. From it, you can draw an avatar, i.e. a graphic representation, from which you can determine different dimensions of the body, says Herola.
According to Herola, the teams found the measuring novelty so effective that it was decided to go with it this season. Most thought it was better than the previous model.
Herola thinks that the new measurement method is one kind of solution, but sees problem areas in 3D scanning.
– It is a heavy procedure, and certainly not completely without gaps. It is still not possible to absolutely ensure the position of the body, nor that all athletes stand in the same position. Your position can affect the measurements to some extent.
Jump suits have been manipulated, for example, in the crotch and underarms, which has increased the surface area of the suit and has brought additional meters.
Former head coach of the Finnish national team Petter Kukkonen has admitted, as the only head coach, that sponges and dishcloths have been stuffed into the uniforms in order to deceive the measurers.
– The eternal question is whether something is hidden in the pants. There was no doctor present during my measurement either, and I was not required to prove that there was nothing there (underpants), wonders Herola.
The measurement did not require a doctor to be present
As chairman of the Ski Jumping Committee of the International Ski Federation, Mika Kojonkoski has to defend himself in front of Ilkka Herola’s critical words, why was there not a doctor appointed by the FIS on the spot to certify that there was no room for manipulation.
– From the point of view of resources (money), the testers (of FIS) decided that each nation can bring its own doctor, as it were. Maybe we are a little gullible in this matter. We should have definitely gone the route of measuring everything in the same place, Kojonkoski admits.
In terms of the athletes’ legal protection and equality, the possibility of manipulation would have been significantly reduced if the measurement situation of all jumpers had been in the same place, and there would have been a neutral operator as the measurer.
– It seems that the best six countries collect 93 percent of the World Cup points. The purpose of these new rule reforms is that a country operating with the smallest resources could also be strong in terms of equipment, Kojonkoski reasons.
“We can see from Ruka’s TV pictures whether the reform has been successful”
Herola doesn’t have much understanding for FIS decision-makers.
– Although I am not an expert in anatomy, it seems strange that it is so difficult to invent a system that can be used to measure a person’s foot in such a way that it cannot be manipulated. I have been struggling with this problem for almost ten years. If this is the best we could do, then there are still a lot of gaps, and we have to put up with speculation.
In Herola’s opinion, the starting points for controlling ski jumping suits are pretty much the same as last year, no significant changes have taken place.
Jump suits have been the topic of discussion for the combined number one in the Ruka competition, which opens the World Cup. Some of the athletes have clearly had looser suits than others. This directly affects the length of jumps.
– In Ruka (24.11.), you will actually only find out when you watch the television pictures, whether the reform has been successful or not. The discussion about ski jumping suits will definitely continue with this system as well. It won’t go anywhere, says Herola gloomily.
Few changes to the costumes of Finnish mountain men
Also the Finnish men’s ski jumping head coach Lauri Hakola sees “loopholes” in the new measurement procedure.
– There is still room for improvement in the overall development. There is still subjective interpretation and maybe also some possibilities. I think that FIS is still thinking about the development of operations.
According to Hakola, 3D measurement has changed the measurements of Finnish suits surprisingly little.
– A centimeter there, another centimeter here. In advance, I assumed that the change would have been bigger. With small changes, we got ahead.
Hakola sees that among the coaches, the novelty has been approached in a matter-of-fact way, even if there might have been easier ways.
– Compared to last season’s measurement method, now there is more accuracy. This should not directly affect rejections. I can’t say yet which countries could possibly benefit from 3D measurement. If we think that there will be a little more equality, then the game can level out between bigger and smaller countries, says Finnish hill coach Hakola.