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Canadian ski jumper Abigail Strate wins World Cup bronze

GARMISCH-PARTENKIRCHEN, Germany –

Canada’s Abigail Strate finished 2023 on a strong note on Saturday by landing her second World Cup ski jumping podium, capturing the bronze medal in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany.

“I’m a little bit in shock. It definitely hasn’t sunk in yet but this is definitely a great way to end 2023 and the confidence boost I needed to transition into the New Year,” said Strate, who has struggled to find her top form from last season in the opening competitions of the season.

“I took some time off at Christmas, and I knew my jumping was better this week. I went into training (Saturday) morning and felt really good, but I wasn’t expecting to be on the podium.”

The 22-year-old Calgarian scored 247.4 points over her two leaps, covering distances of 131 and 130.5 metres on the large hill.

“I was feeling quite nervous. Even in the first round I could feel my heart beating before I got in the gate. That has only happened to me one other time when I was ski flying. I got my head in check, had a clear idea in my head, and forced myself to stay relaxed and calm,” said Strate, who was also third in Saturday morning’s qualification jump.

“I think I was a bit more nervous today because this was the place I was hoping for at the start of the season, and I realized it was actually happening.”

Sitting in fourth at the midway point of the competition, the nerves ramped up as the Canuck clicked in her skis at the top of a 142-metre jump, searching for a consistent flight while staring down an opportunity for her first podium of the season.

Known as the “Bee” in the ski jumping world, the certified Canadian bee-keeper took a quick glimpse at a lucky bee sticker she has placed on her right ski to remind her to relax and smile as she regularly does in the most intense of competitions. The peek at her right ski helped the colourful Calgarian dial in one of her best flights of the year and leap onto the World Cup Cup podium.

Strate, who is also an artist and creative at heart, is studying Graphic Design online at Toronto Film School while training and competing in Europe.

“This position is still a new place for me and I just didn’t want to mess it up. I’m very proud of how I was able to perform.”

Slovenia’s Nika Prevc jumped to the gold medal with 267.4 points. Norway’s Eirin Maria Kvandal landed in second place at 254.5 points.

Strate, who was part of Canada’s historic Olympic bronze-medal winning ski jumping team, made her World Cup debut during the 2016-17 season at 15 years of age. She enjoyed a career-best season in 2022-23 where she consistently placed in the top-10 on the World Cup which included her first podium, taking the bronze medal in Hinterzarten, Germany to go along with three, fourth-place finishes.

Strate’s medal comes weeks after teammate Alexandria Loutitt opened the 2023-24 World Cup season with two silvers and one bronze medal. Loutitt, the reigning senior and junior World Champion, was 16th on Saturday with 215.9 points.

Loutitt sits third in the overall World Cup standings. Nicole Maurer — who along with Natalie Eilers and Canada’s women’s ski jumping duo of Strate and Loutitt have all protected their training environment and high-performance journey while centralizing at the temple of ski jumping in Planica, Slovenia — also continued her steady progression in Germany, placing just inside the elite group of 30 with 179.2 points for 29th place.

The Canadians will look to continue to improve on their fifth place Nations Cup ranking when they compete in the back half of the Two-Nights competition in Oberstdorf, Germany on New Year’s Day.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 30, 2023.

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