Ryoyu Kobayashi of Japan seen in Akureyri, Iceland on April 23, 2024.
© Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool
Ski Jumping

For Ryōyū Kobayashi, it’s about more than a 291m flight

At 27-years-old, the Japanese World Cup titan just took ski-jumping to new heights. With the world already at his feet, what drives him to push the boundaries of sport, himself and human flight?
Written by Tom Ward
4 min readPublished on
There has never been a ski jumper quite like Ryōyū Kobayashi. Quiet and philosophical, ambitious and hungry, the Hachimantai native could retire today as one of the best ski jumpers that ever lived.
But he won’t do that because he’s questing for more: Kobayashi has just made history with the longest ski jump in history, launching himself from a specially-created natural kicker in Iceland on April 24.
Kobayashi soared majestically through the air for around ten seconds before landing an incredible 291m from the launch point, shattering the ski flying and ski jump world record by 37.5m in the process. The previous record was set by Austrian Stefan Kraft at 253.5m. The young athlete had been targeting a jump of 300m in his attempt. Watch below to see Kobayashi's incredible world-breaking ski jump.
It’s a breathtaking sporting attempt never even considered by any other athlete, and one that saw ski jump and sports legends celebrate an amazing achievement in difficult conditions.
“It's difficult to put this feeling into words. This is my dream come true,” says the newly minted world record holder of the longest flight ever by a man on skis. "This experience will up level my career, this record will be my source of strength going forward."
"Last September, when I first visited this place, all I saw was a rock. It was hard to imagine this place covered in snow then, but I knew this place has the perfect natural slope. I could not have asked for a better ski jump hill. This was an incredible experience."
Ryoyu Kobayashi of Japan seen in Akureyri, Iceland on April, 23, 2024

Kobayashi's trajectory

© Predrag Vuckovic/Red Bull Content Pool

Having completed the jump, Kobayashi has topped an already jaw-dropping career. A quick recap:
After taking up ski jumping in childhood, Kobayashi soon joined the Japanese team Tsuchiya Home Ski Team, before stepping debuting on the world stage in the 2015–16 season.
A few short years later, he stamped his mark on the 2018–19 World Cup season, winning a total of 13 World Cups across all disciplines before claiming all six possible titles in the World Cup season: the overall title, ski flying title, Four Hills Tournament, Raw Air, Planica7 and Willingen Five.
Ryoyu Kobayashi of Japan seen in Akureyri, Iceland on April, 24, 2024.

Kobayashi keeps reaching his goals, and setting new ones

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His victory at the Four Hills Tournament in 2019 was historic, with Kobayashi just the third jumper in history to win all four stops, an achievement he says gave him “a lot of confidence.”
“To win the Four Hills is such an honour. It was also a so-called ‘complete victory’, so I was happy to have done that,” he continues.
It was such an honour he returned in the 2021–22 season to claim yet another Four Hills grand slam, and yet again in the 2022-23 season making him just the sixth man to win the Four Hills ski jumping tournament for a third time.
Anyone else might have thought about retiring then, but for Kobayashi, his sport “really feels like my life, which is only a good thing.”
When it comes to the state of concentration and focus required to complete The Ryōyū Kobayashi Project, Kobayashi says it’s all in the mind.
“I don’t really pay attention to what’s going on around me. Only on my own performance,” he says. “There’s no other way than to get on with it. Even if I’m worried, I’ve no choice.”
Ryoyu Kobayashi of Japan seen in Akureyri, Iceland on April 24, 2024.

An incredible achievement

© Joerg Mitter/Red Bull Content Pool

Driven by the need to push his sport to new heights, Kobayashi is simultaneously focused on being the best while reacting calmly to unexpected outcomes. “I’ve been able to adjust with flexibility as the situation arises, so I’ve been at the top for the last four or five seasons,” he says. “It’s difficult, but most of the time, you must give your best performance or else you won’t win.”
As for what’s next, Kobayashi says, “I know 300 meters was the goal I set but I'd love to challenge again.”
For now, it’s time to celebrate the best ski jumper that ever lived, a man who, thanks to the stunning Ryōyū Kobayashi Project, is quite literally on top of the world.

Part of this story

Ryōyū Kobayashi

A World Cup champion, two-time Four Hills winner and owner of the longest jump in history, Japanese star Ryōyū Kobayashi is a ski jumping legend.

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