Jumpers take leap of faith

CAMERON MAXWELL -- Calgary Sun

, Last Updated: 9:41 AM ET

With a black cloud looming over Canada's ski jumping program, the athletes are trying to be optimistic. But with no funding after this season and the possibility of the jumps at COP shutting down, it's tough for Canada's young jumpers to get excited.

"I've been out of high school for four years and the other guys are still in high school," said Mike Nell, who will compete in today's NorAm Super Tour competition at COP, starting at 10 a.m.

"I quit ski jumping to go to university for a year and study geology but after we got the 2010 bid and I heard there was money coming in from the government, so I figured I should give it one more shot.

"As far as I'm concerned, the cuts impact my lifestyle more than the rest guys because it's whether I should continue this after the winter or go back to school."

It's a hard road for all those involved in Canadian ski jumping and nordic combined, especially if no sponsors can be found and the cash-strapped team has to shut down.

CODA is giving $25,000 to six jumpers who meet Olympic standards -- a top 30 at a World Cup event -- so at least those athletes might get a shot at the Winter Games in Turin, Italy.

Nell, who at 20 is the elder statesman for the Canadian team that includes Calgarians Stefan Read, Greg Baxter and Dominik Bafia, will all compete today.

The NorAm Super Tour features the 25 best jumpers on the continent.

Yesterday's training session was pushed back because of high winds.

Canada's jumpers should be perform well after competing in a Continental Cup event in Lahti, Finland, this month.

Read, 17, finished 27th with a score of 103.1 points in the K-116 competition.


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