Updated Jan. 14
Finally, women have broken down the gender barrier that kept them from getting Olympic status for the times they fling themselves through the air and land on the snow.
The USA fought for this event for a long time (another Olympic story I covered for some time). They’re also quite good at it, especially if Sarah Hendrickson heals in time.
Away we go …
Gold: Gregor Schlierenzauer (Austria)
Silver: Kamil Stoch (Poland)
Bronze: Simon Ammann (Switzerland)
Also considered: Anders Bardal (Norway), Richard Freitag (Germany), Severin Freund (Germany), Anders Jacobsen (Norway), Noriaki Kasai (Japan), Peter Prevc (Slovenia)
2013 World Championship top 8: Stoch, Prevc, Jacobsen, Wolfgang Loitzl (Austria), Jan Matura (Czech Republic), Freitag, Ammann, Schlierenzauer
2010 Olympic medalists: Ammann, Adam Malysz (Poland), Schlierenzauer
Gold: Anders Bardal (Norway)
Silver: Gregor Schlierenzauer (Austria)
Bronze: Severin Freund (Germany)
Also considered: Richard Freitag (Germany), Anders Jacobsen (Norway), Andreas Kofler (Austria), Thomas Morgenstern (Austria), Kamil Stoch (Poland)
2013 World Championship top 8: Bardal, Schlierenzauer, Peter Prevc (Slovenia), Freund, Morgenstern, Freitag, Taku Takeuchi (Japan), Stoch
2010 Olympic medalists: Simon Ammann (Switzerland), Adam Malysz (Poland), Schlierenzauer
TEAM (MEN’S LARGE HILL)
Also considered: Norway, Poland
World Cup (Nation Cup) 2012-13 top 8: Norway, Austria, Germany, Slovenia, Poland, Japan, Czech Republic, Russia
2013 World Championship top 8: Austria, Germany, Poland, Norway, Japan, Slovenia, Czech Republic, Italy
2010 Olympic medalists: Austria, Germany, Norway
Gold: Sara Takanashi (Japan)
Silver: Sarah Hendrickson (USA)
Bronze: Irina Avvakumova (Russia)
Also considered: Coline Mattel (France), Anette Sagen (Norway), Jacqueline Seifriedsberger (Austria), Carina Vogt (Germany)
World Cup 2012-13 top 8: Takanashi, Hendrickson, Mattel, Seifriedsberger, Sagen, Katja Pozun (Slovenia), Vogt, Lindsey Van (USA)
2013 World Championship top 8: Hendrickson, Takanashi, Seifriedsberger, Mattel, Vogt, Jessica Jerome (USA), Sagen, Evelyn Insam (Italy)
World Cup 2012-13 top 8: Gregor Schlierenzauer (Austria), Anders Bardal (Norway), Kamil Stoch (Poland), Severin Freund (Germany), Anders Jacobsen (Norway), Robert Kranjec (Slovenia), Peter Prevc (Slovenia), Richard Freitag (Germany)
Simon Ammann (Switzerland): In 2002, the Harry Potter lookalike stunned everyone by winning both gold medals out of nowhere. He won a bit more, then plunged into obscurity and did nothing of note in 2006. He won gold and silver in the 2007 World Championships and found consistency, winning the 2010 World Cup title. And he’s 4-for-4 in Olympic individual ski jumps in North America, winning twice more in 2010.
Anders Bardal (Norway): World Cup season champion in 2012 after never finishing higher than fifth in previous 11 seasons. Second in 2013 and won normal hill World Championship.
Richard Freitag (Germany): Youngster was sixth in 2012 World Cup at age 20. Sixth in each event in 2013 World Championships.
Severin Freund (Germany): Career-best fourth in 2013 World Cup season. Has not yet competed in Olympics.
Anders Jacobsen (Norway): Second in 2007 World Cup but hasn’t been higher than fifth since.
Peter Prevc (Slovenia): Competed in 2010 Olympics at age 17, placing seventh on normal hill. Breakthrough in 2013 with two World Championship medals and a couple of World Cup podiums on the flying hill in his home country.
Gregor Schlierenzauer (Austria): Won the 2009 World Cup title at age 19. Second overall in 2010 and 2012, then first again in 2013. Two bronze medals in 2010, then large hill World Championship in 2011. Not afraid to speak up — he refused to jump in the first event of the 2014 World Cup season in protest over the decision to proceed in strong winds. Then he won the next one, making up for a poor first jump with a whopper in the second round. He’s the favorite.
Kamil Stoch (Poland): Made it to top 10 on World Cup circuit in 2011, then moved up to fifth, then third. Continued his breakout with World Championship gold on the large hill.
Sarah Hendrickson (USA): 2012 World Cup champion at age 17; second in 2013. Won 2013 World Championship. In 13 World Cup events in 2012, won nine and finished second three times. Faces a tough timeline to come back from a knee injury suffered in August.
Daniela Iraschko (Austria): One of the rare 30somethings in this sport; missed much of 2013 season with injury. 2011 world champion.
Coline Mattel (France): Fifth in 2009 World Championships — at age 13. Third in 2011, fourth in 2013. Inconsistent in 2012 World Cup season but much better in 2013.
Anette Sagen (Norway): Won five straight Continental Cup titles (2005-2009) before women earned World Cup status. World Championship best is third in 2009.
Jacqueline Seifriedsberger (Austria): Breakout year in 2013 – fourth in World Cup, third in World Championship.
Sara Takanashi (Japan): 2013 World Cup champion at age 16. Sees Hendrickson as an “icon rather than a rival.”
Lindsey Van (USA): First world champion (2009) in women’s ski jumping and one of the pioneers who led the fight for its inclusion in the Olympics. Injuries have held her back in recent years.