2010 Winter Olympics: Ski Jumping Medal Favorites

The Norwegians and Northern Europeans are the medal favorites in Olympic ski jumping. This isn't a sport that's ever — pardon the pun — taken off in America, so neither the U.S.A. or Canada has really produced top competitors. The following skiers are the best in the world right now. They are the ones to watch in Vancouver

Austria

Austria is the team to beat this year. They are reigning champions in the team event and their roster is full of World Champions. The star of the team would have to be Gregor Schlierenzauer. At a youthful 20, he’s already a superstar. Last season, he won 13 World Cup events—a record. He’s already off to a great start this year. Also on the team are Wolfgang Loizl, the 2009 normal hill World Champion and Thomas Morgenstern, an Olympic veteran with two gold medals to his name.

Switzerland

Switzerland’s Simon Ammann, nicknamed Harry Potter because he resembles the young wizard, is expected to return for his third Olympics in Vancouver. Ammann shocked the jumping world when he became only the second jumper in history to win two individual gold medals in one Olympics. Prior to the Salt Lake Olympics, he had never won a World Cup event. After 2002, he had several years of poor performance, but he is on the rise again. He’s had seven World Cup wins since 2006 and finished the 2009 season ranked 2nd in the world.

Norway

Anders Jacobsen has been jumping on the World Cup circuit since 2006. He has earned 18 World Cup medals (five of them gold). He was the youngest jumper to ever win the prestigious Four Hills Tournament. If he can be consistent, he is capable of winning gold.

Finland

Finland is always a powerhouse in ski jumping. They will be led by Matti Hautamaeki, who has won four past Olympic medals. Hautamaeki has won 10 World Championship medals (five of them gold). The Finnish team also includes veteran jumper Janne Ahonen and Harri Olli. Ahonen has amassed 108 World Cup career medals. Olli has a lot of potential as a jumper. He has turned in some stellar performances, but he doesn’t have the consistency to back it up.

Germany

Martin Schmitt has the potential to bring home a medal for Germany. Schmidt was very successful in his first couple of seasons. He earned 19 gold medals and 20 other medals on the World Cup circuit. He hasn’t been able to keep that level of success going, but he makes it to the podium at least once a season — it could happen in Vancouver this year.

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