By competing at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, Noriaki Kasai set a record for most appearances by an athlete at the Winter Olympics. The Japanese ski jumper participated in eight straight Olympics, beginning in 1992 and stretching to 2018.
Just for the sake of comparison, the top ski jumper in the world in 2017 – Austria’s Stefan Kraft – was born in 1993, a year after Kasai’s Olympic debut.
Kasai’s performance at the 2014 Sochi Olympics was record-setting in its own right. Not only did he set the record – tying with Russian luger Albert Demchenko – for seven Winter Olympic appearances, but he set several other records as well.
Kasai became ski jumping’s oldest individual medalist in Sochi when he won a silver medal on the large hill. He was 41 years, 254 days old. He also became the oldest medalist in ski jumping when he earned a bronze medal in the team event two days later, at 41 years, 256 days old. Additionally, by winning medals in Sochi, he tied the record for longest gap between winning medals: 20 years between Lillehammer in 1994 and Sochi 2014.
Kasai was born in Sapporo, Japan, a few months after the city hosted the Winter Olympics in 1972. He has said he expects to ski jump at the 2022 Olympics (his ninth Games), when he will be approaching 50.
More surprising still is that he hasn’t ruled out the 2026 Games, especially if Sapporo chooses to bid for hosting rights. Kasai would be 53.
As the owner of silver and bronze medals, he says his lack of a gold medal is what still drives him. If he accomplishes those goals in PyeongChang, he may reel back his claims of continuing in the sport.
Canadian equestrian competitior Ian Millar holds the overall record, competing in 10 Olympics. He competed at the Games in 1972, 1976, 1984, 1988, 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004, 2008, and 2012. Canada boycotted the 1980 Olympics. His only medal, a silver, came at the 2012 London Olympics.
Kasai placed 20th in the men’s individual normal hill qualification round Thursday to advance to Saturday’s first round.