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Birger Ruud and the Kongsberg Style

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12th February 12, 1932: the day two boys from the same country competed for Olympic gold in ski jumping at Lake Placid. Birger Ruud and Hans Beck, both from Kongsberg, were two young, hungry athletes who gave each other no quarter. Beck led after the first jump, but Ruud was ahead in the final standings.

It was not a surprising victory. Ruud came from a family of ski jumpers, with his older brother Sigmund (1928 Olympic silver medalist, 1929 world champion) and younger brother Asbjörn (1938 world champion) also very successful.

When Birger arrived in the US he was already reigning world champion, and in the years that followed he was almost unbeatable on the hill, notching up world championships in 1935 and 1937, as well as Olympic gold at the 1936 Games in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. To propel himself to victory, Ruud jumped with an extremely strong hip bend, the so-called "Kongsberg style". His third-place finish in the combined event at the 1935 Alpine Skiing World Championships in Mürren confirmed him as that rare thing: a real all-rounder.

World War II – and imprisonment in the Grini camp near Oslo – may have interrupted his dazzling career but in 1948, at the age of 36, Ruud won a silver medal at the Olympic Games, making him the only ski jumper to have won a medal both before and after the war. With his illustrious and in some ways unrivalled record, Birger Ruud is still regarded as one of the most dominant figures in the history of ski jumping.