The Yomiuri Shimbun SOCHI—Two years ago, Reruhi Shimizu switched from the Nordic combined to ski jumping. As the youngest member of Japan's jump squad in Sochi, he will seek to prove his skills on the biggest stage.
The 20-year-old was selected Friday as a Japan member for the normal hill along with Noriaki Kasai, Taku Takeuchi and Yuta Watase from the five-member squad.
“This is an opportunity I mustn’t miss,” Shimizu said before Saturday’s qualifying round of the normal hill.
“I don’t feel that much pressure. If I don’t get overly ambitious, I think I can make a big jump.”
Born in Niigata Prefecture, Shimizu was surrounded by Nordic combined athletes in his own family. His father, Hisayuki, competed in the event at the National Athletic Meet more than 30 times, and his brother, Aguri, is a Ski Association of Japan-designated athlete for special training.
So it was no surprise that Shimizu was expected to continue his career in the Nordic combined. But he decided to make the switch to full-time ski jumping after graduating from high school.
“I thought I would have better chances in jumping to become the world No. 1,” Shimizu said.
Japan officials initially planned to nurture Shimizu gradually, aiming for gold at the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics. But his improvement was much faster than expected.
Shimizu made the top 10 at the World Cup individual events twice last season—both of which were normal hill events held in Sochi. “I can jump well here,” Shimizu said.