The 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang have been defined by punishing cold and howling winds. But in the ski jump start house, nearly 3,000 feet above ground, it’s warm and eerily silent. The room is packed with jumpers — brave men preparing to launch themselves some 450 feet through the air — but no one speaks. No one smiles. On the very long, tight elevator ride, there is no banter, just quiet concentration.
When they finally reach the top, it’s time for business. Each jumper has his own unique routine — some stretch, some squat with their arms reaching back, some jump in place, even on the extremely steep and narrow stairs above the platform. There’s no fear of heights in this group.
When it’s their turn to jump, they lock their boots in, double-check the straps, position their skis down the slope and slide into the center of the ramp. A quick glance at the clock tells them when it’s time to go. Then, more eerie silence before doing what they came to do.