U.S. ski jumpers ready for trials
World champion Sarah Hendrickson won't be among them, but the rest of the nation's best ski jumpers and Nordic combined athletes will compete in Utah this weekend at the U.S. Olympic Trials for their sports.
The athletes are hoping to qualify for the upcoming 2014 Sochi Games in Russia - though only the winner of each event will stamp their ticket. The trials run Saturday and Sunday at the Utah Olympic Park near Park City.
Defending Olympic champion Billy Demong is all but certain to clinch the Nordic combined spot - he's easily the top American in the sport that combines ski jumping and cross country skiing - while Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome are the top contenders to become the first American woman to qualify for an Olympics in ski jumping.
The Sochi Olympics will be the first to include women, and Van and Jerome were especially instrumental in the long fight to convince the International Olympic Committee to accept them.
Both are from Park City, and Van was the inaugural women's world champion in 2009.
Another Park City native, Hendrickson won't compete because she is still recovering from a knee injury suffered in an August training crash. The 19-year-old sensation expects to resume jumping on snow in the second week of January, a spokeswoman for Women's Ski Jumping USA said, after returning to dryland technique training last week.
"That was a very big milestone," spokeswoman Whitney Childers said, "and it went really well," according to U.S. coach Alan Alborn.
Hendrickson is sure to compete in Sochi, if she's healthy.
She can be nominated to the U.S. Olympic Team as a discretionary pick because of her astounding past success, while the rest of the ski jumpers and Nordic combined athletes for Sochi will be determined later by results on the World Cup and Continental Cup circuits.
Joining Demong among Nordic combined contenders are brothers and fellow Park City residents Bryan and Taylor Fletcher, and five-time Olympian Todd Lodwick.
The men's ski jumpers are not nearly as strong internationally as the women or the Nordic combined team, but Nick Fairall is probably the favorite to win, though Park City's Anders Johnson - a two-time Olympian - Will Rhoads and a few others also could contend.
U.S. Nordic combined and ski jumping Olympic trials
P At the Utah Olympic Park
Saturday • Men's Nordic combined: ski jumping, 10:15 a.m.; 10K cross country skiing race,2 p.m.
Sunday •Â Men's and women's ski jumping,11 a.m.
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