Host City: Squaw Valley, United States
Venue(s): Olympic Jumping Hill, Squaw Valley, California
Date Started: February 28, 1960
Date Finished: February 28, 1960
Format: Two jumps, with both scored on distance and form.
Helmut Recknagel from Thuringia in East Germany was considered by most experts as the hot favorite for the Olympic ski jumping event at Squaw Valley in 1960. Aged 19, he had won at Holmenkollen in 1957 and 1958, and in 1959 he won the Four Hills Tournament, a prestigeous series of four competitions in Austria and Bavaria, inaugurated in 1953. For the 1960 tournament Recknagel and his fellow East German jumpers were denied visas from the West German authorities, and in his absence Max Bolkart from Oberstdorf, the venue for the first competition in the tournament, was the overall winner. Six weeks later those two would both be members of the joint German team for the Winter Olympics.
Finland’s best ski jumper was considered to be Juhani Kärkinen, World Champion on his home ground of Lahti in 1958. The Soviet Union had produced several top jumpers over the last few years, the stars being the 28-year-old Nikolay Kamensky, winner at Holmenkollen in 1958 and the colorful Georgian K'oba Ts'akadze. Norwegian jumpers were still having trouble adapting to the new aerodynamic ski jumping technique, but a new generation of young athletes were closing the gap to the world top class. Ole Tom Nord, aged 19, won the 1960 National Championships and was among the future hopes.
Helmut Recknagel made an impressive first jump of 93.5 meters and was in a clear lead after the first round. The youngest man on the Finnish team, 19-year-old Niilo Halonen, was in second position followed by Kamensky and Kärkinen. The 30-year old US ski jumper Ansten Samuelstuen, Norwegian born from Lillehammer and a recently naturalized US citizen, surprised the home crowd by lying in fifth place.
In the second round, Recknagel again produced the longest jump and was unchallenged for the Olympic title. Halonen made another good jump and won the silver medal by a clear margin. Austrian Otto Leodolter made the second best jump of the last round and advanced from sixth to bronze medal position. Torbjørn Yggeseth, educated as a fighter pilot in Canada and starting as a competitive ski jumper relatively late, advanced from eighth to fifth position with a good second jump and restored some of the lost Norwegian pride.
Helmut Recknagel was the first Olympic ski jumping champion from outside the Nordic countries. He and his fellow East German ski jumpers in the late 1950-ies developed a new aerodynamic technique by stretching their arms forward during their jumps, in Germany called “the Superman Pose”. Recknagel was later educated as a veterinary surgeon and for several years was a member of the East German and German Olympic Committee.
|4||Nikolay Kamensky||28||Soviet Union||URS||216.9|
|7||Ansten Samuelstuen||30||United States||USA||211.5|
|9||K'oba Ts'akadze||25||Soviet Union||URS||211.1|
|10||Nikolay Shamov||23||Soviet Union||URS||210.6|
|23||Ole Tom Nord||19||Norway||NOR||200.2|
|24||Dino De Zordo||22||Italy||ITA||198.8|
|27||Leonid Fyodorov||31||Soviet Union||URS||193.1|
|28||Jon St. Andre||20||United States||USA||192.3|
|32||Butch Wedin||19||United States||USA||187.1|
|42||Gene Kotlarek||19||United States||USA||165.1|