Despite being (ski) booted off after just the second week of competition, The Jump’s Mark Dolan says he’s happy to have been part of this particular run of the Channel 4 winter sports series – because he thinks the standard has been an awful lot higher for this crop of contestants than in years past.
“It’s definitely been the most competitive show, the most competitive series in my opinion,” Dolan told RadioTimes.com, shortly after returning to London from The Jump’s Austrian slopes.
“Last series half the group weren’t even signed off on the [ski] jump you know. Yeah. That’s why they had to do the airbag [jump] instead. As a sort of backup race.
“The trainers have to watch you going down [the practice slope], and be happy that you know what you’re doing. And if they’re not, you don’t jump.”
This year, however, there were no hold-outs, with even first-week evictee Josie Gibson (who was disqualified after backing out of the live ski jump, saying she’d never done it before) officially signed off as being at the right skill level to perform the titular stunt, according to Channel 4.
“I think this has been a vintage year for the series,” Dolan continued. “There have been one or two injuries, and it’s always deeply regrettable when it happens, but I think we’ve seen some of the most competitive races, and I think that most of the cast have come through unscathed, which is I think is a real blessing, and good news for the show, and good news for its future.”
Dolan also revealed that some of the contestants had become a little frustrated with the series’ injury-prone reputation, which was hardly helped by the withdrawal of model Vogue Williams and athlete Sir Bradley Wiggins after they suffered injuries during this year’s competition.
“All of us in the cast, we didn’t really enjoy the injury reputation that the show had,” Dolan told us.
“The show’s not about getting people hurt, and it does feel like this series has been the safest and the best so far. I’d say mainly because of the application of the celebrities who have taken it incredibly seriously.”
With that said, Dolan admitted that he did think the danger was part of The Jump’s appeal, especially in a world where health and safety are more prioritised than ever.
“What’s brilliant about the Jump is how brutal a competition it is,” he told us.
“In a world that’s very homogenised and very sanitised, in a world of health and safety, I think The Jump is a refreshingly brutal, Darwinistic competition. And I think that’s the reason the public enjoy watching it and engage with it.
“Because the public know it’s authentic, it’s tough, and it’s real. And it’s hazardous. And also that if you’re not good enough you’re out.”
The Jump 2017 contestants
Of his own exit, he said: “I’m really gutted to have left the show in week 2. I wasn’t there to make up the numbers – even though I’m a comedian and performer rather than an athlete like some of the others, I still thought with a bit of a background in ski-ing I had a chance.
“I certainly gave it my all, gave 100% in training. But I think psychologically I never overcame the terror of the jump itself. I think that those who have done well on The Jump are those who have a big appetite for speed and danger. And it’s just not my nature.
“And so in the end I was defeated by the ultimate challenge – which is the jump itself.”
Or maybe, the real jump was the friends he made along the way. Or something.
The Jump continues on Channel 4 on Sundays at 7:30pm