Sport: Cushion in Space

In Europe the most spectacular ski-jumping form now on view belongs to East Germany's handsome, boyish Helmut Recknagel, 23, a onetime machinist in a ball-bearing factory.

Getting ready at the top of a jump, Recknagel slides his plastic-coated skis back and forth to make sure they are not clogged, grasps the two supports at the opening of the starting pen and kicks against the back wall with his right ski. Then, tucked into a ball, he shoots down the slide and off into the freezing air, leaning forward over his skis until his nose...

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