American special jumper Nick Alexander soars through the air at Whistler Olympic Park today during the ski jumping medal event. Alexander, who qualified along with two teammates for today's medal event, couldn't match his training jump in the first official round Friday and failed to make the final cut, which included the top 30 jumpers in the world. Swiss jumper Simon Ammann won the event.

Photo by John F. Russell

American special jumper Nick Alexander soars through the air at Whistler Olympic Park today during the ski jumping medal event. Alexander, who qualified along with two teammates for today's medal event, couldn't match his training jump in the first official round Friday and failed to make the final cut, which included the top 30 jumpers in the world. Swiss jumper Simon Ammann won the event.

US ski jumpers fall short in medal round

3 Americans still met their goals in first Olympic event

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— There was an undeserved look of disappointment in Anders Johnson’s and Nick Alexander’s eyes as they looked up the slopes of the normal hill at Whistler Olympic Park this afternoon.

The pair had come to British Columbia with high hopes for Olympic success and in the end accomplished more than most people thought was possible. But Johnson, Alexander and teammate Peter Frenette, who all made the top 50 in special jumping and earned the chance to compete in today’s medal event, wanted even more.

“Today was a pretty tough day for me,” Johnson said. “I didn’t have the best jumps. Sometimes you have a bad day, and it’s all right. My goal was to qualify, and I did that.”

Alexander had one of the longest jumps at 103.5 meters in the trial round Friday, but could not match it in the first competitive jump. He soared 93.5 meters and finished in 41st place, tied with Frenette, who also posted a jump of 93 meters, but scored fewer style points. Johnson was 49th.

“I’m really happy with my trial jump,” Alexander said. “I know it’s there, and I know I can do it. I just need to find a way to turn the pressure off and just go for it.”

None of the skiers advanced after the field was cut to just the top 30 for the final round. Swiss jumper Simon Ammann took home the gold by scoring 276.5 points on rides of 105 and 108 meters. Poland’s Adam Malysz was second with 269.5 points, and Austria’s Gregor Schlierenzauer was third with 268 points.

The American jumpers were forced to watch the final round from the sideline and wonder what it would be like to make the final tier, but they didn’t view their performance as a failure.

“I don’t think in the history of U.S. ski jumping we’ve had three Americans competing for the medals, so I would say we are already a success,” Johnson said. “We are hoping to raise awareness and are hoping that somebody will throw us a bone.”

The U.S. Special Jumping Team lost the support of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association after the 2006 Winter Olympic Games in Turin, Italy.

Since then a group of private supporters have made an attempt to keep the American ski jumping program afloat. The team qualified three jumpers based in their finishes in international competition and earned an invitation to the 2010 Olympic Games.

Since there are only three jumpers, the squad is not eligible for the team event. The Americans will be back on the jump hill Thursday for the large hill qualification. If the young American skiers make the cut, they will get another shot in the medal round Friday. The team will spend the early part of this week training at Whistler Olympic Park.

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