MacKenzie Boyd-Clowes looking for ski jumping breakthrough
Canadians hope to advance
Canada’s been in the competitive wilderness for a very long time when it comes to men’s ski jumping. Yet it looks like in Sochi, the country’s fortunes may be improving, if by only a little.
Heading into Sunday’s men’s normal hill individual first round of competition, Canada is represented by two athletes: MacKenzie Boyd-Clowes and Dusty Korek, both residents of Calgary.
Boyd-Clowes, originally from Toronto, is attending his second Olympics after competing in Vancouver 2010. One year ago, Boyd-Clowes became the first Canadian to break 200 metres in a jump — a positive development for Canada’s future hopes in ski jumping.
Korek, 19, is making his Olympic debut in Sochi as an unranked member of the World Cup circuit.
Both Boyd-Clowes and Korek are facing some long odds to advance to the medal round of competition.
A stacked competitive field
There’s no doubt that ski jumping is dominated by European nations. Germany in particular is a favourite heading into Sunday’s initial first round, with no less than three very strong contenders for a medal: Severin Freund, Andreas Wellinger and Andreas Wank.
Austria, the long-time powerhouse of ski jumping, has Thomas Morgenstern — a three-time gold medal winner and the individual large hill champion in Torino 2006. The Austrians also feature the winner of Saturday’s qualifying round, Michael Hayboeck.
Poland’s Kamil Stoch, the reigning leader on the World Cup circuit and defending world champion, is poised to make it to the podium in Sochi.
Simon Amman of Switzerland, the defending Olympic champion in the normal hill individual event, is gunning for his fifth Olympic gold in Sochi in what he claims will be his final Games.
Yet the biggest wrinkle to this year’s ski jumping is the emergence of Japan as a competitive force in ski jumping. Noriaki Kasai, a 41-year-old competitor that’s been involved in ski jumping events since 1989, is still going strong and doing well on the World Cup circuit this season. The Japanese also feature Reruhi Shimizu, a highly-touted young skier, as well as Taku Takeuchi, in his second Olympic Games.