/

Jumpers set sights on team event; Japan poses threat

AP

With the medals awarded in the individual competitions, training begins Sunday for the final ski jumping event at the Sochi Olympics, the large hill team gold. And there will likely be some familiar faces from the podium at Vancouver four years ago — five in fact.

Austria, which also won the team event in 2006, swept to the team gold medal in Vancouver with Thomas Morgenstern and Gregor Schlierenzauer among the four, and they’ll be at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center on Sunday evening to begin a three-round training session for Monday’s gold medal final.

Andreas Wank is the only member of the silver medal-winning German team in Sochi, while Anders Bardal, who won bronze in the individual normal hill at Sochi, and Anders Jacobson return for the Vancouver bronze medalists from Norway.

The teams will be finalized after the Sunday training session. Double gold winner Kamil Stoch — on the normal and large hills — should be on a Poland team not expected to threaten for a medal.

Japan, however, has emerged as a threat after Noriaki Kasai won silver in the large hill on Saturday night and three of his compatriots were among the top 13 finishers.

Daiki Ito finished in ninth place in the large hill event, with Reruhi Shimizu in 10th and Taku Takeuchi in 13th place.

Russian jumper Mikhail Maksimochkin, who broke two ribs in a training crash, spent two days in the hospital and had to withdraw from the individual large hill event, could still jump for the home country.

“There is minimal chance that he will compete in the team event,” a Russian Olympic Committee spokeswoman said. “He wanted to compete very much, it’s his first Olympic Games.”

The Russian team had nominated five jumpers for the team event and now have four, the minimum required. It could draft in Nordic combined athlete Evgeniy Klimov as a fifth option — Klimov was third in the ski jumping phase of the normal hill event last Wednesday.

There will be 12 four-man teams in Monday’s gold medal final, and the bottom four teams will be eliminated after one set of jumps. The remaining eight teams continue with another jump each, with the winner to be decided on total points.

No points are thrown out, so the team is only as strong as its weakest member.

The team event was added for the first time at the Calgary Olympics in 1988 and Finland won gold there and at Albertville, France in 1992. Germany has won the team gold twice and Japan once in addition to Austria’s consecutive wins at the last two Winter Games.