FORMER Todmorden man James Lambert claims to have become the first British athlete to win a ski jumping World Championship.
The 47-year-old, who now lives in Oslo, Norway, won gold on the 70 metre hill at the International Masters World Championship in Frenstat, Roznov in the Czech Republic.
Lambert who left Todmorden as an 18-year-old to pursue his skiing dream but still visits family in the town two of three times a year, had jumps of 63 metres and 65.5 metres.
His style marks earned him a total of 194.7 points, enough to push Slovenians Peter Slatnar (185.7) and Kristof Gaspirc (175.00) into the silver and bronze positions.
An ecstatic Lambert said: “I have waited a long time for this opportunity...I could scream with excitement.”
Lambert, who set a British record when he jumped 93 metres in Switzerland in 2009, would love to compete in the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia in 2014 but fears he will not be able to do so.
He had his ski licence withdrawn by the British Ski Federation in the wake of last year’s world championships in Oslo because, he says, they were unhappy with all the media attention he received.
“I was too popular. They branded me another Eddie The Eagle and stated clearly that ski jumpers get too much attention,” he said.
Lambert, whose brother Colin was well known in Todmorden football circles, says regular comparisons with Eddie Edwards, whose lack of success at the 1988 Olympics in Calgary endeared him to people across the globe, has held him back in the search for sponsorship.
Contrary to popular belief, snow isn’t needed for ski jumping. More and more events are taking place in the summer and Lambert said: “This is why ski jumping would be an amazing sport for the UK. We could start in West Yorkshire because we have a perfect topography.”