SEEFELD IN TIROL, Austria–
Beneath crisp blue skies, the world’s finest junior ski jumpers flew into the annals of Olympic history today in Seefeld, Austria. The individual ski jumping event marked the first competition event to be held at the 2012 Winter Youth Olympic Games.
As if to prove that world-class ski jumps are more prevalent in Austria than are Mini-Golf courses in Fort Lauderdale, Youth Olympic action shifted today across the Inn River valley from downtown Innsbruck’s Bergisel Ski Jumping stadium, where the Opening Ceremonies were held, to the Toni Seelos Ski Jumping Center in Seefeld.
In the women’s individual event, fourteen competitors battled for top honors during two competitive rounds held on the HS 75 meter hill. Gold went to Japan’s Sara Takanashi who posted two back to back jumps of 76.5 meters. Despite being a junior competitor, Takanashi is one of the world’s best, having placed second to American Sarah Hendrickson in the most recent World Cup event, held in Hinterzarten Germany.
Silver in the women’s competition went to Germany’s Katharina Althaus, who edged out Bronze medalist Ursa Bogataj of Slovenia by a mere 2.2 points.
In the men’s event, Gold was awarded to Slovenian Anze Lanisek who posted jumps of 81 and 79 meters– the longest jumps of the day. Silver went to Norway’s Mats Berggaard, who laid down two consistent jumps of 77.5 and 78 meters. Yukiya Sato of Japan claimed Bronze. 23 athletes competed in the men’s event.
Despite relatively calm conditions, substantial margins separated the top three in the men’s field. Lanisek bested silver medalist Berggaard by 8.3 points on the HS 75 meter hill, and Berggaard led Sato by 17.7 points.
North American athletes also jumped to solid finishes in the Ski Jumping event. On the women’s side, Canadian Taylor Henrich of Calgary led the North Americans with a 5th place finish and jumps of 64 and 66 meters. Emiliee Anderson of Eau Claire, Wisconsin placed 9th, with a strong second jump of 65.5 meters.
On the men’s side, Dusty Korek of Calgary posted an 8th place finish, just behind Austrian Elias Tollinger. Will Rhoads, of Park City, finished 19th in the event.
This is Rhoads’ third experience competing in Europe. He competed in Falun, Sweden in a FIS Cup event in 2010, and in another round of FIS Cup events held in Einsiedeln, Switzerland, in 2011.
Rhoads describes the Youth Olympic Games as having a slightly different feel than his previous experiences in Europe.
“It’s a little more competitive, but at the same time it’s a little more friendly,” says Rhoads, “It’s more of a youth competition, meaning there are more athletes your age, and it’s not quite as serious. It’s definitely alot more friendly than other events I’ve been to.”
Nordic action continues tomorrow in Seefeld with the Individual Nordic Combined event taking place in the morning, followed by the Biathlon Sprint event in the afternoon.
Complete Women’s Results
Complete Men’s Results