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Hill record could fall: World-class jumpers test the limits of Giant Pine

Andreas Granerud Buskum shows his form Friday during training rounds at Pine Mountain. Buskum’s three jumps ranged from 423 feet to 431 feet. Official competition begins at 1 p.m. today at the Bellin Health Pine Mountain Continental Cup. (Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photo)

IRON MOUNTAIN — Markus Schiffner of Austria turned in the day’s longest ride of 141 meters, or 463 feet, during training jumps Friday at Pine Mountain.

Schiffner’s success is a strong indication that the hill record of 471 feet is well within reach at this weekend’s Bellin Health Pine Mountain Continental Cup tournament.

Ski jumping competitions are scheduled for 1 p.m. today and Sunday, with trial rounds at 11 a.m. both days.

“We’ve got some very good jumpers here this week, so everything really is lovely,” said Nick Blagec, Kiwanis Ski Club president.

The forecast calls for a high today in the low 30s, with a southwest wind around 10 mph. Sunday should be partly sunny with a high in the low 20s, and northwest winds of 5 to 10 mph.

(Theresa Proudfit/The Daily News) Tony Benzie, 49, of Iron Mountain, a US Masters ski jumper, waits in the gate for a practice jump at Pine Mountain on Friday. Benzie is serving as a forerunner for this weekend’s Bellin Health Continental Cup tournament, testing the hill conditions. He returned to ski jumping at age 39 after a 15-year hiatus and hopes to contend for a medal at the World Masters.

In all, 39 skiers took flight Friday at Giant Pine in three rounds of official training. The results will count if weather forces cancelation of the weekend competition, but chances of that appear slim, according to ski officials.

Schiffner, 27, ranks 11th in the winter Continental Cup standings and has extensive World Cup experience. He had a second-place finish at Pine Mountain a year ago with a long jump of 446 feet.

The second-longest jump Friday was 135.5 meters, or 445 feet, by 20-year-old Lovro Kos of Slovenia, who is shooting for his first podium finish in a Continental Cup event.

Clemens Aigner, 27, of Austria, sailed 135 meters, or 443 feet, by far the longest jump in the day’s first training round. Aigner– owner of World Cup podium finishes in 2017 and 2018 — ranks third in this winter’s Continental Cup race.

Other strong performances Friday came from Andreas Granerud Buskum, 23, of Norway, fresh off a third-place finish Saturday in Brotterode, Germany; and Rok Justin, 26, of Slovenia, who placed first Saturday and fifth Sunday at Brotterode.

Cene Prevc, 23, of Slovenia, who placed fourth both days at Brotterode, had a long jump Friday of 134 meters, or 440 feet.

The best jump Friday by a U.S. jumper was 369 feet by 18-year-old Andrew Urlaub of the Flying Eagles Ski Club in Eau Claire, Wis.

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