Saranac Lake ski jumper Peter Frenette soared to a second-place finish in a Continental Cup event Sunday in Sapporo, Japan, and now will compete in his first-ever World Cup at the same venue.
The 18-year-old Olympian jumped 127.5 and 128 meters for 257.5 points, putting him behind winner Jernej Damjan of Slovenia, who had jumps of 129.5 and 134 for 272.8 points.
Frenette's second place was his best placing at the Continental Cup level, and the best one for an American in years.
From left, Peter Frenette of Saranac Lake, Jernej Damjan of Slovenia and Rok Zima of Slovenia pose after a Continental Cup competition in Sapporo, Japan. Frennette took second, Damjan came in first and Zima was third.
"That's probably the highest one in a lot of years on the Continental Cup tour," said U.S. Ski Jumping coach Casey Colby, who is based in Lake Placid and doesn't travel with the team. "I don't think I can recall anybody being that high."
Frenette also came in eighth place at Saturday's event at the same location.
Frenette and Colby said stringing together two good jumps was the key Sunday. Frenette has been able to have one great jump, but not two back-to-back this winter.
"I was able to have two good jumps in competition, which up to this point in the season I have not been able to do," Frenette wrote Wednesday in an e-mail to the Enterprise. "It felt great. I knew the whole season I had the ability to place this high, I just have not been able to put together two good jumps. It was awesome to finally do it and paid off as my best result so far."
Frenette will now compete in the World Cup being held this weekend in Sapporo. Colby said it was part of the plan to have Frenette compete in this particular World Cup, if he was able to perform well in the competition leading up to it - which he did.
Saturday's World Cup will have a slightly smaller field than other competitions because some Europeans won't travel. For that reason, the coaches thought it would be a good place to break in some of the young ski jumpers on the U.S. Team, Colby said. It actually turns out that Frenette was the only U.S. ski jumper who performed well enough to make the jump to World Cup this weekend.
Once this World Cup is over, Frenette will likely return to the Continental Cup circuit.
Even though some U.S. ski jumpers like Frenette have Olympic experience, they don't have a lot of top-level experience at the international competitions. Keeping Frenette and the other young ski jumpers at Continental Cup level is part of the development process.
"He's pretty young. At this point, his jumps are good. He's just looking for the confidence, and the coach that's been with him is Clint Jones and he says the same thing. His trial jumps are usually really good and then he misses one of the two competition jumps. So getting some confidence and just having two solid jumps, that's all he did last week and he was second place," Colby said. "That's why we all think it's important to keep them at that Continental Cup level a little longer because they need to be getting used to jumping and being in the top 10 the whole time instead of just being a little lucky. We're trying to keep them in the successful level."
Colby said the goal is for Frenette to do well in the qualifiers and see what happens from there.
"His confidence is pretty high. If I had to guess, I think Peter's expectations are top 30," Colby said.
Frenette said he was expecting this opportunity, but it is very exciting.
"I am very excited and hope I can jump like I did in the Continental Cup, and if I do that I can do well," Frenette wrote.
Frenette gets funding
Frenette has not only done well in competitions but away from them also. This week, it was announced that he entered into a sponsorship agreement with the Malone law firm of Fischer, Bessette, Muldowney & Hunter LLP. The four-year agreement extends through the Olympic year 2014 when the Winter Olympics will be held in Sochi, Russia.
This is a big deal because in 2006, the United States Ski and Snowboard Association cut all funding to the US Ski Jumping program. Since that time, jumpers have had to secure funding on their own, with expenses being paid for by the jumpers and their families.
A year of jumping, travel, equipment and coaching can cost upwards of $25,000, according to a press release.
"We are proud to sponsor an elite athlete such as Peter. In addition to being a world-class ski jumper, he is a fine young man and deserving of our support," managing partner of the law firm John Muldowney said in a press release.