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Aigner breaks hill record

Austrian soars 472 feet at Giant Pine; construction to begin for future World Cup

Theresa Proudfit/Daily News photos Tony Benzie of Iron Mountain, a US Masters ski jumper, served as a forerunner during the weekend competition at Pine Mountain.

IRON MOUNTAIN — Austrian ski jumper Clemens Aigner had himself a weekend to remember at the 2020 Bellin Health Continental Cup. Aigner not only won both competitions held at Pine Mountain over the weekend, he broke the hill record Sunday.

Aigner flew 144 meters, or 472 feet, to set the mark during the first round of official jumps. The previous mark of 471 feet, set by Stefan Thurnbichler, also of Austria, had stood since 2009.

“When I take off, I thought it was a great jump and I just get higher and higher,” Aigner said of his record leap. “I thought I would get close to the hill record, and I did.”

Aigner, 27, competed in his fifth ski jumping event at the “Big Hill” over the weekend. He expressed how much he enjoys competing here, saying, “It’s always a great time here, the hill is awesome, the crowd is awesome and the organization does a really good job. Hopefully, I’ll be coming back.”

Despite his record jump, Aigner was only second after the first half of Sunday’s competition. In the second round, his 136-meter jump earned him his third win this season with 235.5 points.

Pawel Wasek of Poland turned in a ride of 443 feet on Saturday at Pine Mountain, finishing second in the Continental Cup event.

With his total of 711 points, Aigner also took the lead in the winter Continental Cup standings.

Aigner, who competed for Austria at the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, won Saturday’s competition at Giant Pine with jumps of 436 and 425 feet.

Lorvo Kos of Slovenia jumped 141.5 meters, or 464 feet, in the first round Sunday, earning 14.6 more points in his jump than Aigner did. It was based off of style points and Aigner’s jump being aided by less tailwind, a ski official explained.

Kiwanis Ski Club representative Susie Fox noted Aigner’s 472-foot jump will potentially be “the last hill record set with the current tower decking that has been in place for 40-plus years.”

Ski club President Nick Blagec and Fox noted that the current decking is believed to have been set in place in 1979.

From left, Joshua, Rick and Ian Sherman have been attending ski tournaments at Pine Mountain for more than 30 years.

With the impending improvements and changes on the horizon to ready the facility to host a World Cup event in the near future, Aigner will take the hill record back to Austria with pride.

Saturday’s crowd was especially huge, with the weekend attendance perhaps topping previous record estimates of 20,000. Cars were parked anywhere there was space and fire pits warmed the crowd on an overcast afternoon.

Sunday’s weather was cold and a tad windy, but there were no delays in the competition.

Sondre Ringen of Norway sailed 443 feet on Saturday, but struggled a bit on Sunday. “I take off late by one or two meters today (Sunday),” he said. “There’s no margin for error on this hill.

The top finishing American jumper on both days of the event was Andrew Urlaub from the Fly Eagles Ski Club in Eau Claire, Wis. The 18-year-old finished 27th both days with his longest competition jump of the weekend coming on his first jump of the day on Sunday, measured at 123.5 meters, 405 feet.

Matt McCarthy/Daily News photo Clemens Aigner, the new hill record-holder, waits for his final practice run on Sunday at the Bellin Health Pine Mountain Continental Cup. Kiwanis Ski Club member Lennie Walters looks on and waits to release the gate bar.

Before each round of competition, there are forerunners used to test out the track for the competition jumpers. Iron Mountain native, Kiwanis member and longtime downhill skier Tony Benzie was the first of five forerunners on Saturday, prior to the opening of the competition, bringing a huge roar out of the crowd.

It also happened to be the first time down Pine Mountain for Benzie since 1994.

“It’s been a long time for me, I quit skiing for 15 years and started back up 10 years ago,” said Benzie. “It was a great feeling, skiing has been a big part of my life and it meant a lot to me.”

The Continental Cup continues next weekend in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

The Kiwanis Ski Club, meanwhile, will begin work on improvements needed at Pine Mountain to enable the club to continue to host International Ski Federation events, including World Cup competitions.

A $3 million loan is being secured through the Northern Michigan Tourism and Sports Fund and Great Lakes Sports Commission, and other fundraising efforts are underway.

Those interested in supporting the annual tournament can go to www.soaringintothefuture.org.


Sunday Results

Pos. LAST NAME, First, (Country), 1st Jump-2nd Jump (distances in meters)- Score

1 AIGNER Clemens (AUT) 144-136 — 235.5

2 SCHIFFNER Markus (AUT) 129.5-128.5 — 219.5

3 KOS Lorvo (SLO) 141.5- 115.5 — 217.4

4 PREVC Cene (SLO) 129.5-125 — 206.3

5 BUSKUM Andreas Granerud (NOR) 134-124 — 206

6 HAMANN Martin (GER) 125-123 — 201.8

7 WOHLGENANNT Ulrich (AUT) 124.5-130.5 — 200.9

8 HVALA Jaka (SLO) 129.5-121.5 — 195.4

9 JUSTIN Rok (SLO) 126- 125 — 192.5

10 WINTER Paul (GER) 123.5-128 — 192

11 WACKERNELL Julian (AUT) 126.5-128 — 191.1

12 BAER Moritz (GER) 124-116 — 188.9

13 BJOERENG Joacim Oedegaard (NOR) 123-122.5 — 188.7

14 LADEHAUG Anders (NOR) 113.5-122 — 188.4

15 NIETZEL JUSTIN (GER) 112.5-134.5 — 185.9


Saturday Results

Pos. LAST NAME, First, (Country), 1st Jump-2nd Jump (distances in meters)- Score

1 AIGNER Clemens (AUT), 133-129.5 — 264.7

2 WASEK Pawel (POL), 130-135 — 247

3 SCHIFFNER Markus (AUT), 128.5-133 — 244.9

4 HAMANN Martin (GER), 130-127.5 — 243.9

5 BAER Moritz (GER), 129.5-128.5 — 242.1

6 KOS Lorvo (SLO) 130- 128 — 239.2

7 RINGEN Sondre (NOR) 135-125.5 — 234

8 KOT Maciej (SLO) 128.5-129.5 — 233.7

9 HOFFMANN Felix (GER) 122-128 — 228.7

10 WOHLGENANNT Ulrich (AUT) 129.5-123.5 — 228.5

11 HULA Stefan (POL) 125-128 — 227.6

12 BUSKUM Andreas Granerud (NOR) 125.5-122 — 224.5

13 JUSTIN Rok (SLO) 128.5-119 — 223

14 PREVC Cene (SLO) 122.5-133 — 222.8

15 LADEHAUG Anders (NOR) 126.5-120.5 — 221.5

Matt “Sweets” McCarthy’s email address is mmccarthy@ironmountaindailynews.com

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