"You feel, sometimes," murmured Wirkola, "like you are going to jump into the crowd."
"This," said American Jumper John Balfanz, "is the World Series, that's what it is, the World Series."
The runner starts down across 300 feet of ice with his knees doubled against his chest, hands out in front of him with the wrists limp. At the lip of the jump, if his timing is perfect, he uncoils. In just the proper position, his body becomes an airfoil against the wind.
The jumper who can float the longest, who does not panic at the dizzy height and speed and break his position, is the man who wins the Holmenkollen. At 60 miles an hour, following the curve of the hill, it is not easy.
"The first 15 meters or so, you float and it is wonderful," said Wirkola. "Then you start down, down, down. If one can hold the position as he is falling, one jumps far."
When the big day came, there were 90,000 people there, cold, red-nosed, hot-eyed, waiting at the foot of big daddy for Wirkola to show the world how to jump.
There was freezing rain, a fog that hung gray over the tower and, in the middle of the event, a surprise snowstorm. At one point, the announcer's voice came eerily out of the mist, saying, "From the top we can't see how many you are. But perhaps we can listen to you," and the answering roar could have been heard in Greenland.
Going into the day's show, Norway had moved into the lead in medals and points: four gold, two silver and one bronze, compared with Russia's three gold, two silver and one bronze. In third place was Finland with one gold, three silver and two bronze medals.
And in the space of Sunday afternoon, in the worst weather of the year, the heart of Scandinavia was there at the foot of that jump.
There were threats to Norway from all sides: Russia's Valeri Emeljanov came winging off the hill, daring and flat, and landed at 254 feet. Finland's Niilo Halonen reached 262 feet. Then another Russian jumped 264 feet, Norway's Christoffer Selbekk floated down at 262 feet, and the flying World Series was on.