The Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, have been on the news for quite some time, and for various reasons. But no reason could be better for Poland than the Olympic Gold just won by the young ski jumper Kamil Stoch.
If Olympic Gold itself is not enough explanation for you as to why is this a big deal for Poland, here’s some quick historical context to make it clear. Our country had some pretty good competitors, like Stanisław Marusarz, but in Winter Olympics we’ve been bringing up the rear for decades. Then, a strange thing happened: in the 1972 competition in Sapporo, a 19 year old Polish competitor steadily stood his ground somewhere in the middle of the ranking with his jumps of circa 80 m on in a Large Hill competition (where “good” jumps range between 90 and 100 m). The leader was Akitsugu Konno of Japan, who was to meet the emperor if he won and was being cheered on by the whole country. Meanwhile, neither Polish TV or radio paid any attention to this particular event. Then the young Polish jumper, aptly named Wojciech Fortuna, astonished the world by somehow flying a whopping 111 metres, a jump that landed him the first Winter Olympics Gold in the history of Poland. This was so unexpected that the orchestra commissioned for the award ceremonies did not have the notes for the Polish hymn.
That was 42 years ago. And even though we had another amazing ski jumper, Adam Małysz, World Champion four times over, we had to wait those forty two years to see another Olympic Gold, because Fortuna only got his good fortune once. So excuse me while I go wave a flag.