OLYMPICS: Ski Jumpers Coming to Sochi After Best Season to Date
Ljubljana, 6 February - Slovenia's ski jumpers, spearheaded by World Championship runner-up Peter Prevc, are one of the country's biggest hopes at the Sochi Olympics, having managed thirteen individual podium finishes and winning both team competitions in what has been their best season to date.
Four different jumpers - Prevc, Robert Kranjec, Jernej Damjan and Jurij Tepeš - have made the top three in individual competitions this season and Prevc is presently ranked second in the World Cup standings.
The 21-year-old has posted two victories, three second places and two third places this season along with immaculate performances in the two team victories.
Prevc, who won silver and bronze at last year's World Championships, is determined to keep a cool head in Sochi despite the heavy media attention he has been getting, while he is also aware of the long list of favourites at the Olympics.
"The competition will be fierce. We only need to look at how many World Cup winners there have been this year. There are at least as many favourites for gold and if we add silver and bronze to that, we get up to 20 or 25 jumpers of this quality," he told the STA.
Another key member of the team is 32-year-old veteran Robert Kranjec, the 2012 ski flying world champion, who already won bronze with the team at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics.
Kranjec has not had his best season, although a recent third place finish in Sapporo and two fifth places in the final two competitions ahead of Sochi indicate he is in good shape again.
"It would be nice to go to Sochi after a good result or two," he said just before the results started coming.
Damjan meanwhile won the second Sapporo competition, where the podium was completed by Prevc and Kranjec for a historic triple Slovenian victory. The 30-year-old appeared out of nowhere after a terrible start of the season.
"If I'm honest, I would have been disappointed if I had missed Sochi. But I somehow prepared myself for this possibility and only then things started coming together for me," said Damjan, for whom these will be the third Olympics in a row.
Prevc, Kranjec and Damjan will need a fourth member for the team competitions, with Tepeš looking stable again after a shaky middle part of the season. He is not likely to be replaced in the team competition by Jaka Hvala, who is the fifth passenger for Sochi but has left a lot to be desired this year.