OSLO, Norway – Steel grey skies greeted jumpers once again Thursday in the final day of training before the women’s ski jump at the 2011 FIS Nordic Ski World Championships. American Lindsey Van (Park City, UT) will seek to defend the title she won in the 2009 debut of the event, while the IOC watches closely to take a final look before a hopeful decision for inclusion in 2014.
A field of 43 jumpers from 15 nations – more than a 10% increase from 2009 – is expected in the starting field for Friday’s World Championship.
Thursday was opening day at Holmenkollen with the skating sprint event taking place just a few meters away from the Midstubakken 106-meter jumping hill. Over 10,000 spectators are anticipated to jam into the new normal hill jumping stadium (separate from the towering 134-meter big hill Holmenkollen jump) for the women’s World Championship.
Van was strong in the final day of training, finishing second in distance to 14-year old Japanese sensation Sara Takanashi in the opening round Thursday. The young Japanese jumper has won all but one of the training rounds in which she’s jumped this week.
Both Van and Jessica Jerome (Park City, UT) have been strong all week, with 16-year old Sarah Hendrickson (Park City, UT) having her best day Thursday. They will be joined by Abby Hughes and Alissa Johnson (both Park City, UT) for the five-athlete lineup in Friday’s championship round.
“Technically, I jumped a lot better today and I was really happy with the distances,” said Hendrickson, the 2010 Junior Worlds bronze medalist. “I had three solid and good jumps and that gives me a ton of confidence for tomorrow.”
In addition to a larger field than the 2009 debut, the level of international competition has risen significantly. In addition to Takanashi, who won a pair of Continental Cups coming into the Championships, France’s 15-year old Coline Mattel has been strong. Continental Cup leader Daniela Iraschko of Austria took an easy approach to training, skipping the first two days and jumping just twice on Thursday after a reported knee injury.
Competition begins at 3:00 p.m. Oslo time (9 a.m. ET). A live timing scoring feed will be available at:http://live.fisski.com/live3085.htm.