Two North Country skiers made the United States proud at the last Winter Olympics — cross country skier Bill Demong of Vermontville and Alpine skier Andrew Weibrecht of Lake Placid.
Demong won a gold medal in Nordic combined, and Weibrecht came home with a bronze medal in super G. Both expect to be back in 2014, when the Winter Games are staged in Sochi, Russia.
Saranac Lake ski jumper Peter Frenette is yet another Adirondack-bred athlete to watch between now and then.
To expect the 19-year-old to land on the podium in 2014 would be a stretch. Europeans and Scandinavians have dominated men’s ski jumping for years. But at this stage in his career, the 2010 Saranac Lake High School graduate does show promise of being in the hunt by then.
For starters, he’s already jumped in the Olympics.
At the age of 17, Frenette was a member of the three-man United States jumping team that competed in Vancouver. The youngest male on the U.S. Olympic Team, he placed 32nd in the large hill event and 41st in normal hill competition.
More recently, Frenette was the only American to qualify for the FIS World Nordic Ski Jumping Championships held last March in Oslo, Norway. In that event, staged on the famous Holmenkollbakkan jump, he placed 35th.
In a recent telephone conversation, Frenette explained how he wound up on that large stage.
“I competed last January in Sapporo, Japan, and had two good meets,” he said. “The first weekend I got second place in the Continental Cup [a level below World Cup], and in the World Cup the next weekend, I got 18th place.”
That was the best World Cup finish by an American jumper in more than seven years, and it was his ticket to Oslo.
On a national level, Frenette has pretty much established himself as the best jumper in the country. He had the best 2011 Continental Cup results among American men and he is the lone “A” squad member on the USA Ski Jumping team. Last July, he won his third straight title at the United States Ski Jumping Championships in Park City, Utah.
Frenette was asked what his goals are for this season and beyond.
“I’d like to be in the top three in the World Junior Championships,” he said. “I plan to compete in a few World Cups, but focus most of this season on the Continental Cup.”
As for the next Olympics, he said, “I hope to be competitive for a top spot.”
Frenette’s coach, Clint Jones, doesn’t feel that’s a stretch.
“Realistically, he could do much better than that in the Olympics,” said Jones, when asked if Frenette could break into the top 30. “There’s a chance that he could step it up and be in the top 15 or even top 10.”
But Jones said the team coaches don’t want to rush things.
“Ultimately, our long-term goals are to have Olympic medals and all that kind of stuff, but we’re trying not to skip all the necessary steps of getting there,” he said. “We need to focus on the right level so the guys will be successful and build up their confidence.”
With that in mind, Jones said the team will concentrate on Continental Cup events during the first part of the season.
“We’ll ski in one World Cup in Japan at the end of January, and then go from there,” Jones said. “If Peter is skiing well and it make sense to go to World Cup then, he’ll have the opportunity to ski the whole second half of the season in World Cup events.
Frenette first skied at the Big Tupper Ski Center when he was 2.
“I did Alpine and cross country skiing at first, but when I was 6, my mom took me to a learn-to-jump camp over at Lake Placid, and I just kind of kept going from there,” he said.
At the age of 11, he jumped in his first Junior Olympics in Park City. Frenette scored a first and a second in the 2010 North American Junior Championships and he was a member of the 2010 Junior World Championship team.
Frenette missed some training last summer because of a mid-june collarbone injury. That kept him out of a July 4 jump in Lake Placid, but he was back in action in October, finishing second at the Flaming Leaves meet at Placid.
He spent the month of November training with the USA Ski Jumping team in Park City and left Christmas day for his first Continental Cup meet of the season Tuesday and Wednesday in Engleberg, Switzerland.
Frenette’s results in the opener were not what he had hoped for. He was 69th on Tuesday and 52nd on Wednesday. Chris Lamb of Andover, N.H., was the highest-placing American, landing in 30th position on Tuesday. Other members of the USA Ski Jumping team are Anders Johnson of Park City (67th Tuesday and 57th Wednesday) and Mike Glasder of Cary, Ill. (78th and 73rd). Lamb was 78th on Wednesday.
MORE GORE GUNS
In addition to 130 new tower guns placed throughout Gore Mountain’s four peaks this fall, the installation of 30 more low-profile guns was completed under the lift line of the high-speed Adirondack Express lift last week.
Other improvements skiers and riders will see at Gore this season include two new glades on Little Gore, an extension of the Chatterbox Glades, a new “Open Pit Grille” on the sundeck in front of the base lodge and a renovated Tannery Pub and Restaurant.
And today is a historic day in North Creek. The first Snow Train since the early 1940s is scheduled to roll into the Adirondack hamlet this morning.
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