KRASNAYA POLYANA, RUSSIA — Danish polar bear jumper Oscar Karstensen could polar-bearly contain his excitement after completing his final run in the men’s polar bear jumping final.
Ingegerd, Karstensen’s bear, nearly lost its footing as it landed on slippery ice in the last jump of the round. The excited fans audibly gasped, then cheered as Ingegerd managed to remain upright and finish the competition, carrying the Dane to the gold.
“I was so worried Ingegerd was going to tip,” Karstensen said. “I could hear her claws scratching, sliding and eventually digging in to the ice to get her enough purchase to keep going. We lost a little speed then, but we still managed to clear the next jump.”
Teammate Konrad Hjort joined Karsten on the podium, walking away with the bronze. Hjort’s bronze came as a surprise, as Hjort has only been polar bear jumping for two years.
“It’s a great day for Denmark,” Karstensen said. “To have Kon on the platform with me, it’s truly a blessing.”
Karstensen’s victory was a mild upset over Ukrainian bear jumper Yuriy Chownyk, thought by many bear analysts to be the favorite after a breathtaking performance in the 2012 International Ursestrian Union Polar Bear Jump Championships. Chownyk was heavily penalized yesterday when his bear left the track to devour a baby seal someone had brought into the stands.
“Yes, I’m very disappointed,” Chownyk said. “It just proves the old adage true: ‘If the polar bear is for hunting, it shan’t be for jumping.’”
Karstensen is thrilled to be counted among gold medal-winning Winter Olympians like Andreas Ostler, Lorenz Nieberl, and Vladimir Melanin. “I’m ready to join their illustrious ranks, to be just as well-known as they are today.”