A host of famous faces have suffered some pretty nasty injuries while taking part in past series of Channel 4's The Jump. But as the winter sports contest returns this week, it seems gymnast and former Strictly star Louis Smith has got no fear...
Louis Smith swaps gymnastics for ski jumping in the new series of Channel 4’s daredevil show The Jump…
The Jump is possibly one of the most dangerous shows on TV. Last year, seven celebrities had to pull out of the winter sports contest with serious injuries, and even former The Jump commentator Eddie ‘The Eagle’ Edwards has voiced safety concerns.
But that hasn’t stop a host of celebrities heading to the Austrian ski slopes for this year’s series. Taking part are Sir Bradley Wiggins, Made in Chelsea’s Spencer Matthew’s, footballer Robbie Fowler and Olympic gymnast Louis Smith – and What’s On TV caught up with the former Strictly star Louis to find out why he’s risking life and limb for ski jump glory…
Last year your fellow gymnast Beth Tweddle suffered a serious back injury on the show. Does that worry you?
“Not particularly. I risk injury every day doing gymnastics so having to deal with the prospect of injuring yourself is nothing new. I’ve got friends who are in wheelchairs from doing gymnastics, but you can’t go through life worrying about risk. And I’m not treating the show as a competition too early. I want to learn from the coaches and give myself the safest possible route through the contest. I won’t do anything more than I’m capable of.”
Had you skied before?
“Yes, my saving grace is that I had good skiing ability before I even started the show. So I’m kind of one step ahead of the game because I was already comfortable on skis. My skiing is actually going really well, but I was self taught before so it’s been quite a challenge to unlearn all my bad habits and start afresh!”
What’s been the scariest event so far?
“Probably the skeleton. It’s pretty mental flying down on a tray head first, doing 60mph in an ice tube! But it’s also been the most exhilarating as well.”
Does being a gymnast help you in the competition?
“Thinking like an athlete, understanding my body and spatial awareness are all skills I’ve learned through gymnastics that help, but I haven’t used my legs for a long time because doing the pommel horse you spend a lot of time on your hands.
“It’s funny because every time we try a new event everyone says, ‘Louis, I think you’ll be really good at this one.’ I don’t know why, but people think gymnasts are good at everything – I mean they’re not far wrong! But ultimately I’m in the same boat as everyone else when it comes to skeleton and ski jump because I’ve never done them before.”
You’re reunited with your fellow Olympians Sir Bradley Wiggins and Taekwondo champion Jade Jones for the show, so does it feel like being back at Rio?
“No, it’s nothing like the Olympics at all! Everyone’s very supportive and there’s still that camaraderie, but there isn’t any stress involved. But it’s such a great group of people and the standard is incredible. It’s going to make for a very good competition!”
Who’s the most competitive then?
“Vogue Williams really wants to beat the boys and Robbie Fowler is also very competitive. When he doesn’t get something right, he gets really annoyed with himself and he wants to crack it! Bradley really enjoys watching the video analysis back that the professional coaches give him, but everyone’s willing to learn and everyone’s pushing themselves.”
You won Strictly in 2012, so what do you think your chances are of winning The Jump?
“I was more out of my comfort zone on Strictly. It taught me a lot about being in front of the camera and it was great for my confidence, but this is more like a sports competition, so I feel much more at home! But it’s too much of an unpredictable show to say who’ll win – anything could happen!”
The Jump starts on Sunday, February 5 at 7.30pm on Channel 4.