LAKE PLACID - On a gusty day with mostly clear skies at the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex, Lake Placid resident Andrew Bliss soared 90 meters for the longest jump of the day - and that was all that was needed for the win.
The second round of competition Sunday at the Flaming Leaves Festival was canceled because high winds presented potentially hazardous conditions for jumpers.
"Conditions were very difficult, so I'll give myself a little credit for being lucky," Bliss said. "I had some of the better conditions for the athletes, and I took advantage of it."
Lake Placid’s Andrew Bliss prepares to take off Sunday before his winning 90-meter jump.
(Enterprise photo — Mike Lynch)
Bliss, who had a shot at the U.S. Olympic Ski Jumping Team last winter but fell just short, beat a strong field in the open class that included many ski jumping and nordic combined Olympians.
Bliss' finish on the 90-meter hill actually exceeded his expectations.
"I've been at school for the last seven weeks, and I haven't been jumping, so this is a pretty big surprise for me to come out on top," said Bliss, a freshman at St. Lawrence University.
Bliss, who scored 113.5 points, was followed in the standings by nordic combined skier Bryan Fletcher of Steamboat Springs, Colo. and ski jumper Mike Glasder who grew up in Gary, Ill. Fletcher jumped 88 meters for 109 points and Glasder jumped 85 meters for 103 points.
Saranac Lake's Peter Frenette, who set the hill's record Saturday with a 108-meter jump, finished fifth with an 84.5-meter leap.
Nordic combined gold medalist Billy Demong of Vermontville finished eighth with a jump of 79.5 meters for 88 points.
In Sunday's junior class, Tyler Hutchins of Coleraine, Minn. claimed first place with a 93.5-meter jump and 121 points.
Second place was a three-way tie between Kevin Bickner and Zach Daniels, both of Loudon, N.H., and Adam Snyder. Each tallied 112.5 points. No bronze was awarded because of the tie.
Making his debut in the junior class this weekend on the 90-meter hill was 13-year-old Miles Lussi of Lake Placid. Lussi finished ninth on Saturday with jumps of 81.5 and 77 meters for 88 and 87.60 points. Sunday, he moved up to fifth place with a jump of 80 meters for 89 points.
"I was pretty happy with my jumping because this was my first time in a 90 meters competition," Lussi said. "I improved a lot on my first two jumps."
Prior to the ski jumping competition Sunday, a practice roller ski race was held for nordic combined athletes.
Eleven two-man teams were formed and a start list was created loosely based on Saturday's ski jumping results. The start times were modified to make it a close race. The two-member teams each alternated running 1 kilometer for a total of 10K per team.
Nick Hendrickson and Cliff Ward took first place, Fletcher and Adam Loomis took second and Demong and Michael Ward took third.
Demong and Ward had the fastest roller ski time of 24 minute and 57 seconds, Loomis and Fletcher were second in 25:04 and Hendrickson and Ward were fourth in 26:09.
"It was a fun little team sprint," Demong said. "(It was) kind of a good opportunity for the young and old guys to be together to even off the playing field a bit."
Complete results for the events are available on the web at www.skijumpeast.com/results/rslt11c.htm.