Whistler (AFP) -- World Cup leader Simon Ammann said he has high hopes for a medal in the ski jumping after qualification for the Normal Hill competition as the 2010 Winter Olympics got underway on Friday.
With the opening ceremony taking place in Vancouver on Friday, the first competitive event of the games began at Whistler Olympic Park as 51 jumpers battled for the 40 available places with the world's top 10 already through.
Switzerland's Amman, the double Olympic champion from the 2002 Games, was already qualified as one of the 10 best performers on this season's World Cup circuit, but still produced a leap of 103m to warm up for Saturday's final.
"My expectations are of course high," said the 28-year-old whose main rival Gregor Schlierenzauer of Austria posted a leap of 107m having also pre-qualified.
"My first goal is to produce a high performance and I try not to look at my rivals."
Martin Schmitt, who captured team large hill gold for Germany at Salt Lake City in 2002, was amongst the 40 who qualified having leapt 103.5m with three of his compatriots in the top 10.
Jakub Janda of the Czech Republic, the 2006 World Cup champion, was second in qualification with a jump of 105m behind Germany's Michael Uhrmann, the last to leap, who produced the biggest jump of the day of 106m amongst those seeking to qualify.
"I'm quite happy, but the last 10 jumpers who had already qualified will be hard to beat," said Uhrmann.
Each jump is judged on both length and technicality with a number of points awarded and four years ago in Turin, the difference between gold and silver was just 1.0 point.
It could be just as close here between Ammann and Schlierenzauer who has won 32 World Cup events in the last four years including a record 13 in the 2008-09 season.