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2004.03.21

韓国スキージャンプを訪ねて1

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▲韓国スキージャンプ国家代表チームと

かつて、いくつかのサイトで発表した、韓国スキージャンプチームのレポートを再掲載。

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「明日のオフィシャルトレーニングは、3時半からです。間に合いますか?」

 韓国・ソウルの学生街、新村。こんなところでジャンプの話をするなんて、妙な気分だ。2000年8月28日。「FISグランプリ 茂朱(ムジュ)スキージャンプ アジアシリーズ」観戦のために、韓国へ来ている。電話の相手、ムン・チョンセン氏は、韓国ジャンプチームのスタッフで、韓国で唯一、FISの国際審判員を務める方である。僕を今回の大会に招いてくれた恩人だ。

 1998年、長野オリンピックのことだ。スキージャンプ団体戦。原田が、船木が飛び、日本中が興奮に包まれていた。僕は、日本チームに感動しつつ、他にも日本人のような顔をした選手が飛んでいるのに気づいた。テストジャンパーよりも、遙かに未熟なジャンプ。原田が137m飛んだ台で、80mくらいしか飛べない。それが、韓国チームだった。

 日本以外にもジャンプに挑戦するアジアの国があることに興味が湧いた。しかし、全くと言って良いほど情報がない。2年近く、思い出すたびに色々調べ、ようやく韓国で唯一のジャンプ台がある、茂朱リゾートのHPを見つけた。

 やっとのことでたどり着いたサイトにも、ジャンプに関する情報は何もなかった。書いてなければ、教えてもらうしかない。当時ハングルすら読めなかった僕は、辞書と格闘して英語の質問メールを出した。しかし、返事が来ない。1週間、2週間…。1カ月が過ぎ、諦めかけた頃、ようやく返事が届いた。その差出人が、冒頭のムン・チョンセン氏だった。

 韓国でジャンプ競技が始まったのは、1996年のこと。その歴史は、まだ10年にも満たない。競技人口わずか6人、しかも冬は整備の問題で台がまともに使えない。そんな状況の中で4人を選び、初めて参加したのが長野オリンピックだった。団体戦の結果は出場11カ国中最下位。カザフスタンにも負けた。しかし、その後も日本の大会やワールドカップに選手を派遣し、地道な活動を積み重ねていった。

 「今夏、初めてワールドカップクラスの大会を開催します。かげりさんはいらっしゃいますか? ぜひ、来てください。できる限りの歓迎をします!」

 2000年8月の平日、僕は会社を4日も休んで、韓国に飛んだ。
(続く)

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