- Associated Press - Saturday, February 15, 2014

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) - Nordic combined athlete Evgeniy Klimov, under consideration by the Russian Olympic Committee to replace an injured ski jumping teammate, put on quite a show Saturday on a spring-like opening day of training for the large hill at the Sochi Games.

Klimov, who finished first once and third twice in three ski jumping rounds, could replace the injured Mikhail Maksimochkin in the ski jumping team event Monday. A decision is expected Sunday.

The 20-year-old Klimov finished third in the ski jumping portion of the Nordic combined normal hill competition.

Normal hill gold medal winner Eric Frenzel’s best placing Saturday was seventh in extremely mild, sunny conditions at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center.

“The hill is not so easy,” an uneasy Frenzel said. “At the moment I do not have the best feeling. After training I will speak to my trainers about the mistakes and how I can make this better.”

Many jumpers stripped off the top of their suits and were shirtless as they walked from the landing area back to the athletes’ compound. The local weather office reported a “real feel” temperature under the bright sunshine of 20 degrees Celsius (68 Fahrenheit).

As is usually the case, training was optional on the adjacent cross-country course for the 10-kilometer race, which follows the ski jumping portion of Nordic combined.

Jason Lamy Chappuis of France, who won gold in the normal hill event at Vancouver in 2010, had the best placing in the first round while Akito Watabe of Japan, who won silver behind Frenzel in the normal hill, led the second.

“It is so hot here, I feel like it’s the Summer Olympics,” said Watabe.

Magnus Moan of Norway, whose best placing Saturday was a ninth, says he loves the large hill - and the weather in Sochi.

“It’s fun, that’s our Formula One in the hills,” said Moan. “This is, to be honest, better weather here than in my hometown in the summertime.”

Billy Demong of Park City, Utah, the defending gold medalist on the large hill, had placings of 31st, 36th and 39th in his jumps.

“I’m enjoying the weather here at the beach, other than the fact that our suits, which are designed to be aerodynamic, are quite hot,” Demong said. “It’s more or less like wearing a wetsuit.”

Bryan Fletcher of Steamboat Springs, Colo., was 22nd, 23rd and 31st, while his younger brother Taylor’s best was a 45th out of 55 starters.

“Not a bad start to the big hill, two good jumps, one OK jump,” Bryan Fletcher said. “Still looking for improvement.”

Todd Lodwick, also from Steamboat Springs, jumped in two rounds Saturday and was just pleased to be back on the large hill after a left shoulder injury curtailed his World Cup events and training ahead of Sochi. He’s competing in his sixth Winter Games.

“I just wish I was jumping a little bit further than I am,” said Lodwick, who carried the U.S. flag at the opening ceremony on Feb. 7. “I haven’t been on the large hill since early December, so I need to get some confidence and still have a little bit of work to do.”

Lodwick said he also plans to compete for the U.S. in the team competition next Thursday. The Americans, with Lodwick and Demong as two of its members, won team silver at Vancouver.

Further training is scheduled for Sunday and Monday ahead of the Tuesday afternoon large hill final.



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