KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia - The U.S. men's ski jumping team, including Saranac Lake's Peter Frenette, is gearing up for its first competition of the 2014 Winter Olympics this weekend.
Qualifications in men's normal hill ski jumping will take place today, with the first round and finals set for Sunday. The normal hill is the smaller of the two ramps - the K-95 and K-125 - at the scenic RusSki Gorki Ski Jumping Center, which is carved into the northern slope of the Aibga Ridge. The site was selected by international experts in order to protect jumpers from side winds.
There were three rounds of training jumps Friday. Frenette placed 51st in the first round with 39 points. He collected 48.2 points in round two, putting him in 48th place. His longest jump of the day, 89.5 meters, came in round three when Frenette finished tied for 48th with 48.6 points.
Saranac Lake’s Peter Frenette talks with a reporter following men’s normal hill training Friday at the RusSki Gorki Ski Jumping Center in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia.
(Enterprise photo — Chris Knight)
After the training, Frenette said he was happy with his jumps, although he admitted he's still adjusting to the flatter in-run of the normal hill, which means he has to be perfect at takeoff.
"The feel and the timing of the in-run is a lot more challenging, so that's something I'm getting used to," Frenette said.
This is the second Olympics for Frenette. He has bigger expectations for himself than when he competed in Vancouver four years ago and took 41st in the normal hill competition.
"Last time I was doing the Olympics, I was 17," he said. "Now I'm a bit older and more experienced. My goal is to get to the top 30."
Anders Johnson, a Plattsburgh native who lived in Lake Placid when he was young, also said it's taking him some time to get the feel of the normal hill. He placed 45th, 44th and 42nd in the three training rounds.
"The first couple jumps were all about trying to get used to the hill," said the 24-year-old Park City, Utah resident. "It's a little different hill, so it took a few jumps to try and get the feeling. Now it's just a matter of putting down your best effort when it counts."
Johnson said he's been battling inconsistent jumping and some injuries in recent weeks.
Nick Alexander, a graduate of National Sports Academy in Lake Placid, also admitted he's got some work to do. He placed 50th, tied for 43rd and 38th.
"It was kind of a rough start for me," said the 25-year-old from Lebanon, N.H. "But the last two jumps I had were in the right direction. I'm getting there, slowly but surely."
Before traveling to Sochi, the men's ski jumping team had a training camp in Whistler, British Columbia. When Frenette arrived in Whistler, he opened his ski bag and found one of his skis had been damaged. His only other pair was back in Saranac Lake, Frenette said Friday.
"It was a bit of a bummer as I turned up to pre-Olympic training with no skis," he said. "I had to borrow some from (Canadian ski jumper) Mackenzie (Boyd-Clowes) but luckily I have a new pair now."
Frenette said he had a new pair of skis delivered to Sochi ahead of his arrival for the Olympics. Those are the skis he used in this week's training and will use throughout the games.