Veteran ski jumper Roar Ljoekelsoey of Norway doesn't mind flying all the way to Japan if it means a chance to make up some valuable World Cup points. Ljoekelsoey is the biggest name at this weekend's large hill event at the Okurayama hill, the site of the ski jumping competition at the 1972 Winter Olympics. The 29-year-old Ljoekelsoey is fifth overall in the World Cup standings. His best performance this year was a second-place finish on the large hill in Oberstdorf, Germany, last month.
"I've always enjoyed coming here," Ljoekelsoey said Friday. "I don't mind the travel and this is a good opportunity to see where I stand heading toward the Olympics." Jakub Janda of the Czech Republic, who has won five events already and leads the overall standings with 872 points, elected to sit this meet out along with defending world champion Janne Ahonen of Finland and Switzerland's Andreas Kuettel, who is third in the standings.
Ljoekelsoey said coming to Japan won't interfere with his Olympic preparations. "My goal is to be in perfect shape going there," said Ljoekelsoey. "If I'm in good shape and perform well there I hope to get a good result." Ljoekelsoey won a World Cup event on the Okurayama hill last year and says he has fond memories of the venue. "I have a really good feeling for this event," added Ljoekelsoey. "If the conditions are good and I can put together some good jumps, I'm pretty confident about the way things should turn out for me."
Japan, meanwhile, is counting on big performances from veterans Noriaki Kasai and Takanobu Okabe along with 20-year-old Daiki Ito, who is a member of Japan's team for the Turin Games, reports the AP. N.U.