Skiers, hill ready for jumps

IRON MOUNTAIN – The jumpers have arrived and the hill is ready.

The 2013 Bellin Health Pine Mountain Continental Cup International Ski Jumping Competition is on schedule for this weekend at Giant Pine Mountain.

“The hill is in excellent shape and everything is ready to go,” Kiwanis Ski Club President Nick Blagec said Thursday.

The weekend’s first practice runs took place Thursday afternoon following a morning bout of freezing rain and sleet.

Finland’s Jere Kykkanen, returning to Pine Mountain for a third year, was among the jumpers getting in some time on the hill.

“I’m ready,” he said following a practice jump that unofficially exceeded 400 feet. “Everything is good. There’s enough snow. You can jump really far this year.”

Kykkanen, who has been stateside for the past month competing in the Five Hill Tour, turned in a third-place showing at Ishpeming Wednesday. He finished 12th in last year’s one-day competition here. And his first practice run Thursday already exceeded his showing from last year by more than 15 feet.

“It was OK for my first jump on this hill this year,” he said. “I’m hoping for good weather. If we get good weather, we get really good competition.”

“I like coming here. It’s a lot different,” Kykkanen said. “If you make a good jump, the people are screaming and pushing the horn in the car. So, it’s a really good feeling.”

Also making some practice jumps Thursday was Nick Matton of Eau Claire, Wis. Matton was sixth at Ishpeming Wednesday.

Matton is making his Pine Mountain Continental Cup debut after serving as a forerunner last year.

“It was good,” he said of one of his early practice jumps. “The conditions started off not so prime with the tailwind and sleet. I’m excited and a little nervous (for the weekend). I hope I do well. It should be good.”

Chicago’s A.J. Brown was another American on the hill Thursday. He belongs to the Norge Ski Club out of Fox River Grove, Ill., and took 12th in Wednesday’s event at Ishpeming.

The 17-year-old has jumped at Pine Mountain since he was 12.

“The hill is in great shape,” he reported after one of his Thursday jumps. “There’s going to be a lot of good competition here this weekend, so it’s going to be really good.”

Weekend schedule of events:

– Today: 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., official training

– Saturday: 11 a.m., trial round; 12:30 p.m., opening ceremony; and 1 p.m., competition one (two rounds of jumping).

– Sunday: 11 a.m., trial round; 12:30 p.m., opening ceremony; and 1 p.m., competition one (two rounds of jumping).

An awards ceremony will follow the competition on the outrun.

All times are subject to change depending on weather conditions.

Pine Mountain Road will be closed to through traffic from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday for the annual jumping competition.

Visit for more information on the ski jumps. Booster buttons are required on all three days.