N Ski jumping

An exceptional athlete: Ryoyu Kobayashi © ANSA / ANNA SZILAGYI

Ryoyu Kobayashi: Tour hat-trick thanks to Japanese calm

With stoic composure and eight consistent jumps, Ryoyu Kobayashi achieved a hat trick at the Four Hills Tournament. Although the Olympic ski jumping champion came in second place four times, that was easily enough for the third golden eagle in the 27-year-old Japanese's trophy collection.

In the Bischofshofen run-out, Kobayashi celebrated with a shower of champagne, and a little later he caused laughter again at the press conference with his usual verbal restraint. Because Kobayashi is not a man of big words. Almost demonstratively, the Japanese answers all questions briefly, concisely and often not very meaningfully. Due to the language barrier, “Roy”, as Kobayashi is called in the team, has a translator with him on the tour, and the German Markus Neitzel is a constant companion of the three-time overall winner. The full-time pastor revealed that Kobayashi wasn't much more talkative, even in his native language. “Taku Takeuchi explains everything like a trainer, down to the last detail. Ryoyu just explains it like an athlete,” said Neitzel, referring to Kobayashi’s teammate.


When asked about his relationship with his German rival Andreas Wellinger and whether he sometimes drinks coffee with him, Kobayashi replied with a grin: “I don't drink coffee.” A query about the planned celebrations after his triumph at the Kobayashi left the ski jump spectacle virtually unanswered. “I haven’t thought about that yet,” he said. The only choice of drink was clear: “Vodka with Red Bull.”

Beginnings as a cross-country skier

The baseball fan, who is sponsored by the Austrian energy drink manufacturer, loves fast and big cars, and in the past he has also stopped by the Red Bull Formula 1 team in the pit lane. On social media, the 1,73 m tall Kobayashi, who comes from the northern prefecture of Iwate and began as a cross-country skier at the age of eleven, often poses next to high-horsepower cars. Kobayashi comes from a ski jumping family, his older brother Junshiro finished the tour in 29th place.

With the prize money of 100.000 Swiss francs (around 107.000 euros), Kobayashi, who is only two overall wins away from tour record holder Janne Ahonen, says he wants to repay the loan on his house. The two-time overall World Cup winner is certainly appreciated by his competitors. “He is a very calm and pleasant guy. You can have fun with him, even if it’s just nonverbal,” Wellinger said. For Stefan Kraft, Kobayashi is one of the best ski jumpers in the world. “He’s always right there with the highlights.”

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