The proud tradition of Polish ski jumping is facing a severe crisis this season, marked by a notable absence of the national team in the top ten of the World Cup and a lackluster start to the Four Hills Tournament. Przemysław Kantyka, a coach and former participant in the World Cup, has even gone so far as to declare that “ski jumping in Poland is coming to an end.”
For years, the pillars of the Polish ski jumping squad have been Kamil Stoch, Dawid Kubacki, and Piotr Żyła, each of whom has achieved significant success, etching their names into history. However, this season has seen a downturn in the performance of these champions, and there are no apparent successors on the horizon. Kantyka, who coaches children in Sokół Szczyrk, paints a grim diagnosis of the crisis in Polish ski jumping.
“The end of ski jumping in Poland is near. I have contact with many coaches during the Orlen Cup competitions. Recently, we collectively, almost unanimously, concluded that ski jumping in Poland is coming to an end,” stated Kantyka, highlighting the consensus among coaches.
According to Kantyka, the recruitment of children into ski jumping programs poses a significant challenge. While there are individual clubs with substantial interest, the overall trend is declining. He notes that there are now only half as many children participating compared to his time. Despite efforts by clubs like Sokół Szczyrk to attract youngsters, the allure of ski jumping seems to be waning.
Kantyka also points to broader issues with the motivation and attitude of young jumpers. He observes that today’s children are less active, have poorer motor skills, and are less receptive to coaching. “We handle children delicately to ensure nobody leaves the club. The number of young ski jumpers is so small that we cannot afford to lose anyone,” he laments.
Reflecting on the past, Kantyka notes a shift in dedication, stating, “In my time, after making the eighth jump, we would ask the coach if we could do another one. Today, some children struggle to complete three jumps. They come and, right from the start, say, ‘Coach, only three jumps today.’ We used to build jumps near our homes, cut medals out of cardboard, and then jump 20 times until our parents called us back.”
As Poland’s ski jumping future hangs in the balance, with Kamil Stoch currently occupying the 17th position in the Four Hills Tournament standings, Sunday’s qualifications in Garmisch-Partenkirchen may serve as a crucial juncture for the nation’s ski jumping aspirations.