Q&A with a Nordic Ski Jumper

The Winter Olympics are just around the corner and wouldn’t you know it, we’ve got a former professional ski jumper right here at our headquarter office in Broomfield, Colo. Matt Kuusinen, who now handles things like production scheduling, inventory management, and milk delivery scheduling used to spend his time soaring through the air with nothing but two skis and a helmet.

I got a chance to sit down with former human projectile earlier this week. Check it out….

Hopefully the snow is deeper on the landing strip...

TGM: So first off, Matt, what’s it like to ski jump?

MK: It’s not something that’s easily explained, but aside from the whole flying through the air thing, I think the sport most analogous to ski jumping is golf.  Both require a similar type of coordination, and both have huge elements of “mental game” sports psychology. Comparatively I guess the biggest difference is that in golf when you slice the ball, you take a mulligan; in ski jumping when you slice, you’re the ball, and there are no mulligans.

TGM: How does one get started in the ski jumping game?

MK:  You grow up in Steamboat, Colo.  I’d say one quarter of the kids there try ski jumping at some point during their grade school years. There are about dozen other actual jumps in North America, but I’d argue that Steamboat has about the best program around.

TGM: I’ve seen other ski jumpers flip and twist in the air… you weren’t into the freestyle thing though, eh?

Matt:  No, not purposefully anyway. I was a Nordic ski jumper which means I launched from the jump at around 60 miles an hour, with distance being the main objective.  If you find yourself doing a flip… well, that’s usually bad news. Good TV though.

TGM: So how far did you actually jump?

MK:  My longest jump was about the length of one-and-a-half football fields.

TGM: Do they always measure jumps in football fields?

MK:  No.  Ski Jumping is a European sport, so they measure it in soccer fields…  except there they call it football.

TGM: …..

That's Matt on the Left...

TGM: Moving right along… are you ever tempted to ski jump again?

MK: Are you ever tempted to jump out of your car at 60 miles an hour?

TGM: Excellent point. Assume you’re looking forward to watching the Vancouver Olympics?

MK: Yeah, I’m super stoked!  Johnny Spillane and Billy Demong, my old teammates, have both won World Cups this year so they’re basically gold medal contenders in Nordic Combined, and we haven’t had U.S. contenders in like a zillion years. It might become a nationally televised big deal. I encourage everyone to cheer them on. Check them out on the U.S. Ski Team Site.

Food in space

Orange drink, etc.

Apparently, Space is exhausting.

Yet, that’s not our impression, is it? Jumping, skipping, hitting golf balls is a lot harder to do when you’re in a near weightless atmosphere. According to studies done after the Apollo 11, Buzz Aldrin expended around 300 calories an hour. So just about everything he did in space was a real physical challenge, making what he ate, and how much he ate all that more important.

Clearly, flavor was not top of mind for NASA.

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