Host City: Nagano, Japan
Venue(s): Hakuba Ski Jumping Stadium, Hakuba
Date Started: February 15, 1998
Date Finished: February 15, 1998
Format: Two jumps, with both scored on distance and form. Only the top 30 jumpers (and ties) from the first jump advance to the second jump.
30,000 spectators gathered at the Hakuba Ski Jump in anticipation of the first Japanese Olympic triumph in the sport since the Sapporo Games in 1972. The home crowd certainly had reasons to expect a memorable day's sport. The enigmatic [Masahiko Harada] held the world title at this event, Four Hills champion [Kazuyoshi Funaki] had already won a silver medal at these Games and the two other Japanese jumpers, [Okabe] and [Saito], were also talented performers. The man who threatened to spoil the party for the hosts was the jumper who had already won on the smaller hill, [Jani Soininen] of Finland.
Whilst the Japanese occupied three of the first six places, the half way lead was taken by the 21-year-old Austrian [Andreas Widhölzl], who had already impressed in taking third place in the K-90 competition. In sixth place, but apparently out of medal contention after the first round, was Harada but his second round leap was a monster. His jump was so long that he landed outside the range of the electronic measuring device and had to be measured manually. The competition could not wait and the last five jumps were taken before Harada's score was processed. With the crowd at a fever pitch Funaki stepped up to take his jump and sailed out to 132.5 m and into the lead. Funaki also scored perfect 20.0 on style points from all five judges, the only time this has occurred at the Winter Olympics (through 2010), and one of only five times this has been accomplished in international ski jumping.
Soininen produced a respectable but not huge leap and could not overhaul Funaki.
Second-placed Okabe failed to leap within ten metres of his first attempt and slumped down the leader board, which left only Widhölz between Japan and Olympic gold. The Austrian dropped well short of the required distance and a great cheer came from the home supporters as Funaki was recognized as champion. A few seconds later confirmation came that Harada's giant leap had catapulted him into the bronze medal position.
|8||Michal Doležal||19||Czech Republic||CZE||243.2|
|15||Jakub Sucháček||19||Czech Republic||CZE||229.3|
|24||František Jež||27||Czech Republic||CZE||208.7|
|30||Casey Colby||23||United States||USA||165.8|
|40||Choi Heung-Cheol||16||South Korea||KOR||89.1|
|44||Alan Alborn||17||United States||USA||82.5|
|50||Randy Weber||20||United States||USA||75.3|
|51||Kim Hyeon-Gi||14||South Korea||KOR||72.9|
|53||Choi Seo-U||15||South Korea||KOR||66.6|
|56||Jaroslav Sakala||28||Czech Republic||CZE||61.2|
|58||Brendan Doran||18||United States||USA||58.7|
|62||Kim Heung-Soo||17||South Korea||KOR||9.9|