- Associated Press - Saturday, February 8, 2014

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) - World Cup leader Kamil Stoch of Poland has taken his hot form into the men’s normal hill ski jumping gold medal final at the Sochi Olympics.

Stoch, who already had qualified because he was among the top 10-ranked jumpers on the normal hill going into the event, nonetheless was among the top finishers Saturday in the qualifying round.

Thomas Morgenstern of Austria, who was injured badly in a training fall Jan. 10, qualified ninth among those who had to jump for a spot Saturday.

Michael Hayboeck of Austria led that group.

“I’ll do the same as I did now, nothing different, and hope for a medal,” Hayboeck said. “I’m self-confident now.”

Simon Amman of Switzerland, competing in what he says will be his last Winter Games, is bidding to win a record fifth Olympic gold.

Of the 10 prequalified jumpers, Severin Freund of Germany and Gregor Schlierenzauer of Austria had the longest jumps of 104 meters each.

Schlierenzauer, who won bronze in both the normal and large hills at the Vancouver Games, will attempt to win his first Olympic gold on Sunday.

Robert Kranjec of Slovenia, who had prequalified, lost his balance on landing and toppled over, losing both his skis. He walked off and appeared to be not seriously hurt.

On Sunday, the field will be reduced from 50 to 30 jumpers after the first of two rounds.

Two of four Americans qualified for the final - Anders Johnson of Park City, Utah and Peter Frenette of Saranac Lake, N.Y.

“I feel good because I had problems this season with injuries and setbacks,” Johnson said. “My object is to be part of both competitions (normal hill and large hill). I’m halfway and I want to keep the momentum.”

Nicholas Alexander of Brattleboro, Vermont, and Nicholas Fairall of Andover, New Hampshire, failed to advance.


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