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Jumping for Joy!

When Anders Johnson says he's going to sneak in a few ski jumps, he might really mean sneak.

He's been sneaking jumps in since the age of four, after all. "My sister went up for her first jump, and I followed her up, and nobody paid attention, and I just went," said Anders, now

Anders' first jump was even earlier, the year before, from a hay bale-size ramp at the bottom of a ten-meter downhill run. "I just went up there and skied down," he says. "I didn't really catch a lot of air; I just sort of dropped off the take-off."

Since then, Anders' ski jumping has really soared. He has been ranked as high as fourteenth in the country in the juniors division, which includes kids up to seventeen. Last year Anders competed in Finland, a world power in ski jumping. "I thought I wasn't going to do that well," he says. "But I actually did; I got third place."

Leaping from Olympic-size ski jumps, Anders has soared as far as 134 meters (440 feet). That's longer than a football field. "The part I like most is flying through the air," says Anders, who lives in Utah. "It's like an adrenaline rush ... when you get in the air and you know you're going to travel a long way."

How does Anders do it? It's all a matter of speed, timing, strength, grace, and balance.

First there's the in-run: building up speed on the downhill slope. At the bottom of the ramp, Anders is traveling nearly 100 km (kilometers) per hour (close to 60 mph).

Then he leaps out powerfully as he crosses the take-off.

Anders makes it sound easy. "All you do is lean forward on your skis and the hill fades away from you."

Leaning far forward, riding the rush of wind with his body, Anders lets his skis, held in a V position, help support him. "The V is kind of like wings, and you're like a glider," he says. "You're kind of on the edge of tipping over, but your skis are holding you up."

Then it's pure joy. A good jump can last almost seven seconds. "It feels a lot shorter," Anders says.

For Anders, even a whole day of jumping can feel too short. "The part I like least of all is right when you've just had a great jump and you want to go up again, but it's your last jump of the day," he says.

Then there's nothing to do but look ahead to the next day's jumping. "I just say, `I need to do that again tomorrow, and begin right where I left off.'"

Be a Ski-Jump Fan! Try holding a flat, narrow piece of cardboard in front of a fan to get a sense of what it's like to ride the wind like a ski jumper. Change the angle of the cardboard to see how it increases or decreases the lift from the fan.
COPYRIGHT 2001 Children's Better Health Institute
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 2001 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Title Annotation:ski jumper Anders Johnson
Publication:U.S. Kids
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Jan 1, 2001
Words:495
Previous Article:Surprise-ercise!
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