Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Pragelato, Italy It will not take gold, silver or bronze to put a smile on Alan Alborn's face today in Pragelato. He is just hoping for two good jumps.
"Of course, I want to jump 140 meters, but I'm trying to make small steps all the time," Alborn said. "My jump tonight was in the right direction, so I'm happy."
Alborn's 36th place finish made him the only American to survive the first cut in the large hill event Friday night in Pragelato. The field will be trimmed to the top 30 Saturday night, and those athletes will compete for the 2006 Olympic title.
"I'm just having fun and making those small steps. I'm not looking for any 50th-place or first-place jump. That's not really realistic. But, if I make the right changes at the right time, it will happen. But I have to make sure I do the process first and not go right to the outcome."
Alborn jumped 111.5 meters in the tricky wind conditions at the Olympic venue to net 87.7 points. He was 21st among nonqualified jumpers.
But, those wind conditions left his teammates frustrated and discouraged as they left the venue. Clint Jones placed 54th with 64.9 points, Tommy Schwall was 57th with 63.5 points, and Jim Denney placed 62nd with 58.5 points.
"My teammates are a bunch of good guys, and they are really talented. It bums me out that they are not right there with me, but they will be there soon," Alborn said. "It's just a matter of time and matter of focus, and desire. The No. 1 thing is to have fun, and that's the one thing they need to take away from this experience."
But, the constantly changing wind patterns at the jump facility have led to canceled training sessions and problems maintaining a steady schedule that have taken the focus off of ski jumping for the American team.
"It's pretty impossible to have a fair competition with the wind here," Jones said. "You try to do whatever you can, but if the wind is like this the whole week, it's going to be tough. ... It's frustrating having trained all year, and having this kind of condition."
Eighty-six jumpers were invited to compete in the large hill competition at the Olympic Games. Fifteen of those athletes are prequalified for the second round based on World Cup results, but 35 jumpers must score enough points in the first round to advance to tonight's main event.
"I'm going to get rested up tonight, focus tomorrow morning on some technique and come out here and perform," Alborn said. "All I want is two good jumps. Even if my first one is great, and I don't make it in because of wind or something, whatever. I'm just having fun and making small steps."
Austria's Thomas Mor-genstern led the round with a jump of 136 meters for 136.8 points. Finland's Janne Ahonen followed in second place after flying 136 meters and scoring 136.3 points for his effort. Austria's Andreas Kofler in is third with 133.8 points, and Swiss skier Andreas Kuettel is in fourth with 132.6 points.
The final rounds will take place tonight in Pragelato. The first jump will begin at 5 p.m. with a trial round followed by the first competitive round at 6 p.m. The final 30 jumpers will begin the final round at 7:05 p.m.