This wonderful story never ceases to amaze.
This story is about Janne Boklöv, who began his career at the age of four on the 20 meter hill at Koskullskulle, and who went on to revolutionize the sport of ski jump.
It was in the mid 80s that this young, stuttering, religious, epileptic redhead invented the V-style, challenging the norm and creating the new standard by which the whole world operates.
Janne Boklöv was a young lad from the iron fields who dared to think for himself, and in doing so had an epiphany.
There on Freyabacken in Koskullskulle, outside of Gällivare, by the high school in Örnsköldsvik, and all around the country, he experimented with outwardly-angled skis and discovered that it made his jumps much, much longer.
His approach was mocked throughout the ski jumping world, however, not least amongst the conservative Norwegians. They refused to entertain new ideas relating to their national sport. Boklöv was known as a “flapping crow”, and high-profile athletes such as Torbjörn Yggeseth, as well as ski jump judges, tried to block the efforts of the “crazy Swede” through the International Ski Federation (FIS). But progress will not be stopped.
Janne Boklöv, weighing all of 58 kilos, continued to refine his technique, and in the mid 80s came the Jump with a capital J. He just flew and flew, with his outwardly-angled skis.
“That was the jump I’d been after for years,” stated “Bokis” happily.
He quickly joined the national team, and began training with them in Falun, on the plastic hill, in the summer of 1985. He described the experience like so: “V-style came about by chance. For a long time, I thought about it like surfing. You need to be in front of the wave, for it to push you forward. Why not apply that to ski jumping? Get in front of the wind, and allow it to push you forward.” He put his theory into practice, changed his center of gravity, leaned forward, and let his skis slide apart to form a V. This made his profile wider, which allowed him to control his speed and altitude for longer, lengthening the jump.
On the hill in Falun, the average summer jump was 70 meters. Boklöv flew 90 meters, and people were blown away.
He had developed the technique, and now his career truly took off. The judges deducted points from “The Crow”, but what did that matter? He flew so much further than everyone else.
Success in competitions followed soon after. He was the first Swede to win a World Cup event in Lake Placid, in 1988, and during that season won the entire World Cup with a total of five victories. Boklöv also came fifth in the prestigious Austrian ski jump competition.
This author had the privilege to follow Janne Boklöv’s career through competitions throughout Sweden and the rest of Europe, and it was a unique experience. Boklöv was full of energy, and had a good sense of humour about himself.
November 5th, 1990 saw the opening of a new hill jump at Dundret.
Janne Boklöv went all in, as he did for every contest, big or small, but he landed awkwardly and broke his right ankle. It was shocking, and to those who had been following his career, it signified the end of an era.
Surgery and a long rehabilitation followed. Boklöv made some attempts to come back to the sport, but his ankle was never the same. Not content with being a “tourist jumper”, he reluctantly retired.
Janne Boklöv, born on April 14th, 1996, was a true folk hero. His successes, his sincerity, his humility, and his unflinching honesty made him a fitting recipient of the Jerring Prize. Not to mention his courage in the face of all the criticism he received, debuting his groundbreaking technique.
Boklöv, who was worked a lot with child care during his life, has lived both in Stockholm and abroad in Luxembourg. He now lives with his family in a house in Skellefteå. He has a wife named Jorun, and two sons by the names of Joel and Jonas.
However, Janne Boklöv is not the only connection Gällivare-Malmberget has to the sport of ski jumping.
Koskullskulle AIF, in the village of the same name, has a long and valued connection to the sport. Freyabacken hill jump had been in place since 1928, and in 1959 it received some long-awaited lighting. The club’s first jumper, Arne Wilén, came close to the Olympics in 1948. During the 50s, Koskullskulle AIF began pushing harder, and dominated the world of ski jumping for long periods, putting forth such competitors as Holger and Tord Karlsson, Olle Martinsson, Kurt and Lennart Elimää, Janne Holmlund (also famous for his spectacular performances on the Lahti World Cup hill), and Mikael Martinsson, in addition to superstar Janne Boklöv. Kjell Lindqvist was the dynamic club leader for many years.
The club was quite good at attracting girls to the sport of ski jumping, although interest has waned in recent years. The hill at Dundret remains a monument to a bygone era.
However, plans to revive the hill are in motion, including plans to build the Barents Vintersportscentrum on Dundret.
Håkan Svensson (text)