It's time to take on the big boy.
With the men's and women's normal hill competitions safely out of the way, the men will now test their ski-jumping ability—and courage—on the large hill.
While the massive hill, which makes the normal one totally self-conscious about itself, sets the stage for one of the most thrilling, hair-rising events at the Winter Olympics, it also just so happens to be on of the most dangerous:
During training on Wednesday night, Russian Mikhail Maksimochkin and normal hill gold medalist Kamil Stoch of Poland both crashed, according to the Associated Press (via CBS). Maksimochkin was taken to the hospital with fractured ribs, while Stoch escaped serious injury.
Not even three-time Olympic champion Thomas Morgenstern has been able to avoid the dangers of the death-defying sport. In early January, he was hospitalized with skull and lung injuries following a nasty crash.
Naturally, he's back to compete in Sochi.
Needless to say, the athletes who compete in this event aren't afraid of much. Here's everything you need to know to watch them in action on Day 7, per Sochi2014.com.
Event: Men's Ski Jump (large hill) Qualification
Date: Friday, Feb. 14, 2014
Time: 9:30 p.m. in Sochi, 12:30 p.m. ET, 5:30 p.m. GMT
TV: NBC Sports Network (Rebroadcast) at 2:15 p.m. ET (schedule)
Live Stream: NBCOlympics.com
Updated Medal Tracker
The Contenders for Gold
As we previously eluded, Stoch suffered a crash on Wednesday. But he was clearly feeling just fine on Thursday, as he finished first, second and third during three training rounds.
Combine that with his gold medal on the normal hill and gold medal on the large hill during the 2013 World Championships, and the 26-year-old is undoubtedly a strong bet to sweep the individual events in Sochi.
Either way, he already has the support of decorated Polish ski jumper—and current rally racing driver—Adam Malysz, as NBC's Nick Zaccardi pointed out:
Stoch has a slew of challengers, though.
Switzerland's Simon Ammann, who swept the individual events in Vancouver in 2010, is going for a record fifth ski jumping medal. But after finishing 17th on the normal hill, he didn't sound all that confident.
"Maybe I will find a miracle solution on the large hill but I need to have a break," he said, via AFP News' Alexandre Fedorets (per Yahoo! Sports).
Germany's Severin Freund and Slovenia's Peter Prevc, who won silver in the normal hill, joined Stoch in looking impressive during training on Thursday. They won the other two training rounds, and it certainly wouldn't be surprising if that trio ended up on the podium.
But it's a stacked event. You can't forget about Morgenstern, Gregor Schlierenzauer—or any of the Austrians, really. Norway, as is typical, also has an extremely strong team, led by Anders Bardal, who won bronze on the normal hill.
In the end, though, you're not likely watching to see who wins. You're watching to see one of the most breathtaking sports on the planet.
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