Ski Jumping Preview
The individual events (Normal Hill and Large Hill) work in the same fashion. The Top 15 in the World Cup Rankings automatically qualify. Beyond that, ski jumpers compete in a qualifying round with the Top 35 from the qualifying round moving on to the first round of the event, in which 50 ski jumpers compete. Jumps are scored by judges based on form, distance, style, and quality of landing.
After the first round, the bottom 15 competitors are eliminated, leaving 35 jumpers in the final round. For the top 35, their scores from the first round and second round are added together for their final total. The three with the highest combined scores win medals.
In 2006, Austrian Thomas Morgenstern beat fellow Austrian Andreas Kofler by 1 tenth of a point for the gold medal in Large Hill.
For the team competition, each team has four jumpers whose scores are combined. After the first round, the teams with the eight highest aggregate scores move on to the final round. First and final round scores from all eight jumps are aggregated and the three highest scoring teams earn medals.
Morgenstern and Kofler are still in the Top 10 in the world rankings and will surely be competitive in Vancouver. However, Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer and Simon Ammann of Switzerland are pacing the field in the World Cup standings and figure to be the prime contenders to medal.
The highest ranked US Ski Jumper, according to the World Cup rankings, is Nicholas Alexander at 73rd. The US doesn't have the rich ski jumping tradition that European countries do, but 20-year old Anders Johnson represents the US's best hope for a medal. Don't expect much out of the US jumpers - in Turino 55 of the top 60 (top 30 in each event) were Europeans. After finishing 14th out of 16 teams in the team event in Turino, the US would need a stellar performance to crack the top 8. In Turino, the top 11 teams were all European.
The Steelers n'at Pick: We like Simon Ammann of Switzerland to bring home the gold, just edging out Schlietenzauer, Morgenstern and Kofler. In the Team event, Austria is an absolute powerhouse, making them an easy gold medal pick, with Norway and Switzerland rounding out the medals. Germany could be a dark horse in the team competition.
Three Rivers Burgh Blog Pick: Alexander wins it. 73 is his lucky number so how can't you put your faith in him to win an event that the U.S. has pretty much no shot in winning at? Homerish, maybe. Smart? Hell yea. USA USA USA!