Experience personified: Hideaki Nagai
As we have seen with all the other "Experience personified"-athletes: huge success can also come to you at the ripe old age of over 30 in Nordic Combined and an athlete who fits this description extraordinarily well is Japan's Hideaki Nagai. He has been a Nordic Combined athlete on a national level since 1996 but only found his way into the Japanese World Cup team in 2012 by winning a national competition, qualifying for Continental Cup and instantly getting points there. "An interesting guy", head coach Takanori Kohno sums up. The 31-year-old tackled the usual "Experience personified"-questions from his unique perspective.
What would you says is the main difference between Nordic Combined when you started with it and Nordic Combined as it is today?
When I started with Nordic Combined, there were not many athletes who were really strong both in jumping and in cross-country. Today, you have to perform on an unbelievably high level in both disciplines to achieve good World Cup results. On top of that, there is way less difference between the athletes after the jumping event and the races are very tight.
How do you view the development of the sport these days, especially in regards to Ladies Nordic Combined?
I think the competitions of Nordic Combined have gotten more interesting and easier to understand for the spectators by the changes which were made in regards to the formats and rules and also by the development of the athletes.
It will probably take a while until Ladies Nordic Combined is accepted by the people and has a standardised form but generally speaking it will lead to an increase in the interest of the media and the spectators. It's a very positive thing.
If you had one wish for the future of Nordic Combined, what would it be?
I hope that Nordic Combined will stay beloved by many people, competitions will stay interesting and exciting and I will be able to watch it on TV as an old man.
Something you have always wanted to say in an interview?
Life's gonna be all right!
Do you have any plans for after your active career?
I don't have any detailed plans yet but I would like to support athletes and young people with my experience.
This picture shows me age 15 at the national Junior High School Championships of the prefecture Ishikawa. I won this competition.
Hideaki Nagai Facts
Favourite venue: Val di Fiemme is not really my favourite venue but a very meaningful place for me as I had my first World Cup start there and managed to get my first World Cup points. As a second venue to name, Oslo is always something special, it's about the long tradition there. It's the holy place of the Nordic disciplines.
Favourite format: I think the mass start is cool. Usually, we are having our decisions in the cross-country races but the mass start has the decision in the ski jumping part as in special jumping. I like that.
World Cup starts: 33
I don't even know if I am a good person for "Experience personified because yes, I am over 30 years old and yes, I am an old athlete but I only have a fixed spot on the World Cup team since 2012 (laughs)
First FIS competition: 1999
First World Cup start: 03.02.2012 in Val di Fiemme
World Championship starts: 3
Olympic Games starts: 3