Norway shines in weekend Continental Cup jumping at Lake Placid

Norway shines in weekend Continental Cup jumping at Lake Placid{mosimage}Male and female ski jumpers came to Lake Placid, New York, over the weekend to conclude the first period of Continental Cup ski jumping. They got wet. They got cold. And Norway got three victories – two for the women, one for the non-women — while the American men reached program goals for the summer and U.S. women produced seven top-10s.

What had been a classic Indian Summer earlier in the week turned brutal Friday as a storm bringing cold and rain rolled into the Adirondacks. Temperatures free-fell from the 70s and low 80s at midweek to the upper 40s by the end of jumping Sunday. ‘You could see your breath…and this is the start of October, not the end of the month’ muttered a smiling Corby Fisher, U.S. men’s head coach.

Chilly or no, rainy or no – and it was plenty moist Saturday — the jumpers hung in there. Wojciech Skupien of Poland, who hadn’t competed at all in the sub-World Cup events until the four U.S. meets won Saturday while Norwegian Anders Bardal won Sunday on Lake Placid’s normal hill (HS100). Anette Sagen, the Norwegian who’s dominated the women’s side of the sport for three years, won both ends of the Flaming Leaves Festival doubleheader.

‘I’ve never jumped this well in summertime’ Bardal said after edging Bachleda by a point (251.0 on jumps of 94.5 and 95.5 meters). The Pole led the first round following a 96m jump, but couldn’t match Bardal in the final round, going 93 meters and slipping to second (250.0 points). A day earlier, Skupien won with Bardal third.

‘I like this hill. It’s a good flying hill. [Saturday] I was unlucky with the conditions’ Bardal said, ‘but today I had two good ones.’

Clint Jones, as usual, had the top U.S. results each day – leading five Yanks into the top 20 when he was sixth Sunday and four into the top 20 a day earlier when he was fifth — to clinch second place for the first period. The season resumes in late November in Finland – and by that time Jones will be back on the World Cup tour.

But, as Fisher noted, when your national team has just two athletes, and one of them is trying to return from knee surgery, you grab good results where you can find them. Having multiple young Americans in the top 20 at any level of international jumping is a major step forward for the program.

‘Four in the top 20 [Saturday] and five today, that’s outstanding for us. This is an Olympic year and when we’ve got skiers scoring Continental Cup points it makes Olympic Team selection a bit easier, according to objective criteria’ the coach said. ‘This was a good weekend for us.’

Sagen, who’s just 20, has dominated the women’s scene for the last couple of seasons, dogged at a short distance by Americans Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome. It was more of the same in Lake Placid – she won Saturday’s competition by 8.5 points when Canadian Atsuko Tanaka, the first-round leader, struggled on her final jump; Sunday, Sagen led the first round and held on to win by four points over teammate Line Jahr. Jerome had the best U.S. results each day, finishing seventh and then fifth.

After eight women’s Continental Cup jumping events, Sagen has 670 points and then there’s a knot of three – Jahr second (451), Van third (429) and Jerome fourth (422). The women take a break until mid-January, resuming January 14 in Ljubno, Slovenia.

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