Omischl ready to tempt fate

Aerialist says he'll attempt quintuple jump if needed

By STEVE BUFFERY, QMI Agency

VANCOUVER — On a day of tragedy at the Olympics, Canadian freestyle ski aerialist Steve Omischl said he will attempt an extremely difficult and potentially dangerous quintuple jump if he needs one to win a medal.

Omischl, who has never performed a jump with five twists in competition, said Friday that he has landed quintuple jumps in practice and it’s in his arsenal, if need be, at the Vancouver Olympics. The men’s aerials final is scheduled for Feb. 25.

“I’ve done enough of them in training over the past couple of years that if I need to do it, I can do it,” the North Bay native said. “At this point, my plan is to do two quad twists and execute them well. If I need to do five twists in the finals, I need to do five twists in the finals. But it’s not something I’m focusing on because there are just so many factors that are going to go into it.”

The biggest factor is the weather. Conditions at Cypress Mt. for freestyle skiing are up in the air (so to speak). Organizers have been forced to lug in bales of hay and snow from higher altitudes as Vancouver has been hit with warm weather, rain and fog.

Very few of the world’s top aerialists have performed a quintuple. The most notable occurrence was at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics when Czech skier Ales Valenta landed a quintuple-twist, triple backflip in his final jump to move from fifth place to first. But Canadian freestyle ski team leader Peter Judge said the idea is for Omischl, as well as his teammates Warren Shouldice and Kyle Nissen, to perform well enough where they won’t need to try a quintuple jump.

“We don’t want to leave the door open for an Ales Valenta situation, where a guy came out of nowhere,” said Judge. “Ideally, what you want to have that arrow (the quint) in your quiver. But it’s not something you risk in bad weather. But if you’re feeling good, it’s one you want to pull out and use prudently. But it’s not to be used as a Hail Mary.”

All three Canadian men are potential medallists, with Omischl the sentimental favorite. A member of the national team since 1999, Omischl, 31, has won 10 golds on the World Cup circuit and was the 2005 world champion, but has never won an Olympic medal.

steve.buffery@sunmedia.ca

POLL