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Andover’s Fairall makes Olympic team in ski jumping

  • First-place finisher Nicholas Fairall takes the podium after the men's ski jumping event at the U.S. Olympic trials in Park City, Utah, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)

    First-place finisher Nicholas Fairall takes the podium after the men's ski jumping event at the U.S. Olympic trials in Park City, Utah, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)

  • First-place finisher Nicholas Fairall competes in the men's ski jumping event at the U.S. Olympic trials in Park City, Utah, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)

    First-place finisher Nicholas Fairall competes in the men's ski jumping event at the U.S. Olympic trials in Park City, Utah, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)

  • First-place finisher Nicholas Fairall competes in the men's ski jumping event at the U.S. Olympic trials in Park City, Utah, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)

    First-place finisher Nicholas Fairall competes in the men's ski jumping event at the U.S. Olympic trials in Park City, Utah, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)

  • First-place finisher Nicholas Fairall takes the podium after the men's ski jumping event at the U.S. Olympic trials in Park City, Utah, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)
  • First-place finisher Nicholas Fairall competes in the men's ski jumping event at the U.S. Olympic trials in Park City, Utah, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)
  • First-place finisher Nicholas Fairall competes in the men's ski jumping event at the U.S. Olympic trials in Park City, Utah, Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013. (AP Photo/Jim Urquhart)

When Nick Fairall won his first national ski jumping title back in August, it couldn’t have been a better start to an Olympic season for the Andover native.

Yesterday, back at the Park City, Utah, venue where he captured the large hill national championship, Fairall accomplished his next big goal. The 24-year-old won the U.S. Olympic trials, stamping his ticket to the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in February.

“It’s excellent to be going to my first Olympics. It’s something I have dreamed of since I was a little kid, but most importantly I am proud to go and represent the USA,” Fairall said. “It’s not a generic comment; I’m very proud. It’s such a great opportunity that not many people get to do and I’m so thankful for that.”

Jessica Jerome won the women’s trials, sending her to the first women’s ski jumping competition in Olympic history.

The winner of the trials receives an automatic spot on the Olympic team, while the other three spots on each squad will be determined by results in international competition. Two other Granite Staters, Andover’s Chris Lamb and Lebanon’s Nick Alexander, are in the running for those spots, which are expected to be announced on Jan. 22.

Fairall, who also was national runner-up on the normal hill in Lake Placid, N.Y., in October, won yesterday’s trials with 253.5 points to earn his first Olympic spot. Anders Johnson was second, 4.5 points behind. Peter Frenette finished third with 245.5 points.

Jumping off the normal hill at the site of the 2002 Winter Olympics, Fairall cleared 96 meters on his first jump to score 127.5 points and take a six-point lead over Johnson. After Johnson scored 126.5 points on his second jump, Fairall once again cleared 96 meters, scoring 126 points to secure the title and his Olympic dream.

“I like this format, and the crowd created such excitement, it was unbelievable,” said Fairall, who began ski jumping at 6 years old with the Andover Outing Club. “I tried to stay mentally strong today and not put too much pressure on myself and it paid off. I’m really happy.”

Lamb, like Fairall a product of the Andover Outing Club, finished fifth yesterday with 237 points. He cleared 93 meters on his first jump and 92.5 on his second, scoring 118.5 points on each.

Alexander was sixth with 231.5 points.

“Based upon how the guys have been jumping so far this season I was really happy, it was a very fair competition, and I was pretty much expecting the guys that placed in the top three to be there,” U.S. men’s ski jumping Head Coach Clint Jones said. “Nick Fairall has been jumping pretty well and it was good that he was so consistent.”

With his spot on the Olympic team secure, Fairall will be headed to Austria this week for the final two stops of the famed Four Hills Tournament, to be held on Saturday and next Monday.

(Sandy Smith can be reached at 369-3339 or ssmith@cmonitor.com.)

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