Polish ski jumper Kamil Stoch won two gold medals at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, on the normal hill and the large hill. He also competed at the 2006 and 2010 Olympic Games.
Ski jumping beginnings
Stoch was born on May 25, 1987 in Zakopane, Poland, a hot spot for ski jumping-crazed Poland. He learned to ski at age 3. By the time he was 9, he had made his first ski jump. Zakopane also hosts a World Cup stop, and when he was 16, that’s where Stoch made his debut on the circuit in 2004.
Major competitions/ medals
Stoch won two medals at the 2013 World Championships – individual gold on the large hill and a team bronze medal, setting himself up to be a threat at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. He won gold on the large hill as well as on the normal hill. He finished in fourth place with the Polish contingent in the team event.
During the post-Olympic season, Stoch struggled. He reached ninth place on the overall World Cup standings, but finished 17th and 12th on the normal hill and large hill, respectively, at the 2015 World Championships. However, he still won a team bronze medal at those Worlds. His individual downward trajectory continued – partly due to a knee injury he sustained – and he slipped to 22nd in the 2016 World Cup rankings.
He bounced back in the pre-Olympic season (2016-17). He finished fourth and seventh on the normal and large hills, respectively, at the 2017 World Championships. Plus, he won a gold medal in the team event. He rebounded to finish second overall in the 2016-17 World Cup rankings.
Stoch competed for three years at the junior level, qualifying for three consecutive junior world championships. His best finishes came in the team events, where he won silver medals in 2004 and 2005. Individually, his top finish was eighth place in 2005.
When Stoch won gold medals on the normal and large hills in Sochi, he became just the third man to complete the feat. Matti Nykanen of Finland won both golds in 1988. Switzerland’s Simon Ammann won two golds in 2002 and 2010.
The Polish Ski Federation says that “Stochomania” is real, and the federation works to protect Stoch from too much media exposure.
“He’s very stable at a very high level.” – Billy Demong, executive director of USA Nordic and 2010 Nordic combined Olympic gold medalist
Stoch competed in three Olympic Games. In 2006, he finished 16th on the normal hill and 26th on the large hill. He also finished fifth with his Polish teammates in the team event.
At the 2010 Vancouver Olympics, he had similar results. Stoch finished 27th on the normal hill and 14th on the large hill. In the team event, the Polish squad finished in sixth place.
Stoch broke through at the 2014 Olympics, where he won both the normal and large hill gold medals. The Polish team finished off the podium in fourth place in the team event.
Outside of training
Stoch mat his wife while they were both studying at a sports academy high school. He was training for ski jumping and she was studying ju-jitsu – he jokes that it’s part of the reason he was so nice to her!
One day, Stoch hopes to get his pilot’s license. A few ski jumpers, including four-time gold medalist Simon Ammann (of Switzerland), have their licenses and fly for fun.
If he’s not competing at an event, he enjoys watching. “I watch all the competitions and try not to miss anything,” he told media.