U.S. jumpers closing in on top 50

INNSBRUCK, Austria – It’s two down, two to go at the Four Hills Tournee for Norwegian Anders Jacobsen, who claimed victory in both Oberstdorf and Garmisch and performed in front of more than 20,500 fans on New Year’s Day.

Jacobsen, who took last season off, has bounced back with a freshness and an enthusiasm that is indeed noticeable. His long jump of 143 meters almost broke the current hill record of 143.5 meters on New Year’s Day.

Team North America, made up of USA and Canadian ski jumpers, has been “unspeakably close to making the cut,” according to coach Clint Jones. Only the top 50 make the qualification to move into the finals.

United States jumpers Peter Frenette of Saranac Lake and Anders Johnson of Park City, Utah and Canadian 2010 Olympian Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes of Calgary are on the tour. This is Frenette’s – a 2010 USA Olympian – first time on the highly competitive and grueling Four Hills Tournee. The other two have competed at previous Four Hills events.

Coach Jones said that although no one has made the top 50 yet, the team is progressing.

“If you look at how close we are, like 52nd in Garmisch with Anders, for example, we are just a meter or two away, if we can get that, we will qualify the guys,” Jones said from Innsbruck. “The jumps are there. Look at what the guys did in Engleberg – they had a great second day there – that can happen here.”

The USASJ News Bureau talked with two-time U.S. Olympian Johnson, who said he is experiencing some lower back pain now.

“You know, I tweaked my back prior to the qualifications in Garmisch,” Johnson said. “I was just warming up. It really didn’t bother me much until I got back to our hotel and then it really started to hurt. Today, it’s still tight, but it is a little better.”

Frenette said during the same interview that he feels his jumping is nearly there.

“I also have been close and when I have a good jump I feel like I can be right in there, and competitive,” Frenette said. “So I have to say, it’s getting better, but I am still a little inconsistent. I think part of it is mental, I still need to relax more.”

The Four Hills Tournee is composed of four Ski Jumping World Cup events and has taken place in Germany and Austria each year since 1952.

“I love being on the Four Hills, it’s exciting and really cool, there are so many fans and we got cheers from US Army fans, as they have a base in Garmisch,” Frenette continued. “I’m glad they came out.”