Japan made a strong bid: Takashi Fujisawa jumped 262. West Germany's Wolfgang Happle came down at 268, East German Peter Lesser topped them all with 278. Then came Wirkola.
With the crowd yelling, "Hiyuh, Bjorn," Wirkola materialized out of the mist in a perfect, trancelike pose, his arms locked against his sides, floating on and on as though the fog were holding him off the ground. In the second that he landed, the show was over. Norway and the world had seen one of the best jumps it is likely ever to see: Wirkola had gone 277 feet, with perfect form. As he skated to a sliding stop, he looked around calmly, the only absolutely cool figure inside a circle of bedlam.
So perfect was Wirkola's jump that three of the judges awarded him 19.5 points for style (20 points is perfect and only two jumpers have gotten 20 points in 30 years), and the other two judges each gave him 19.
There were, in substance, two high spots of the day: Wirkola's first jump and Wirkola's second jump.
Within minutes after he had jumped, the snows came—so thickly that they blotted out the hill, the tower and the crowds. Officials suspended the meet, hoping for the storm to let up, and the announcer led the crowd in community singing, pleading with them not to go away. It was one of the season's more absurd gestures. That crowd could not have been driven away with fire hoses.
With a six-point edge over his nearest competitor, with the gold medal a virtual cinch and the snow hanging dangerously heavy, all Wirkola had to do, actually, was pull off a passable jump. But once again he came wafting down, holding an unbroken, beautiful, flying stance—257 feet, and 102.2 more points.
When it was all over Wirkola had won everything in sight, including a widening circle of blondes and enough free cheese sandwiches to last him until spring. Japan's Fujisawa was second, Sweden's Kjell Sjoberg was third. A Russian was sixth. American's John Balfanz had placed 16th.
Cold and drenched with heavy snow, the crowd began pouring off the big hill back to Oslo, and the announcer's voice came from somewhere out of the storm. "We will shoot fireworks down the bill," it said. Nobody stayed to watch them. They had already seen, on a historic Sunday afternoon in Norway, all the fireworks any country can stand in one cold winter.