Austria dominates first Alpencup weekend in Winterberg
With four out of six podium places, the Austrian Nordic Combined team clearly dominated the first weekend of the 2014/15 Alpencup season in Winterberg. Both victories (Noa Ian Mraz and Paul Gerstgraser) as well as both second places (Philipp Kreuzer and Marco Beikircher) went to the Austrians. The third place in the 10 kilometre-event on Saturday was taken by Laurent Muhlethaler from France and Germany’s Maik Hanzlik claimed the remaining step on the podium in Sunday’s 5 km Individual Gundersen.
Noa Mraz shines on Saturday
After a nice jumping competition in sunny weather, Austrian David Aigner went out on the 10 kilometre-city roller ski track first. He had won the jumping event with strong 86 metres, the longest jump of the day.
The many spectators, who were entertained throughout the day by Winterberg’s city festival as well as the Nordic Combined event, saw a close race in which Noa Mraz pushed to the front from an intermediate 14th place after jumping and made up a time behind of 1:14 on David Aigner who couldn’t quite follow the leaders in the end anymore and had to be satisfied with a fourth position just off the podium. Mraz’s brother Samuel finished with a great fifth rank. With the fastest roller-ski time of the race (23:58.9), Paul Gerstgraser improved from rank 37 to a final sixth place.
Man of the Day was 16-year-old Frenchman Laurent Muhlethaler from Premanon who showed a respectable jump of 80 metres on Winterberg’s HS 87 St. Georg hill, claimed the intermediate second rank and never lost track of the leaders in the roller-ski race. He finished in third, 12.5 seconds after winner Noa Mraz in the end, his first-ever podium result in his third Alpencup start.
Hazy conditions on Sunday
In Sunday's hazy conditions, Austrian Janni Reisenauer, who had had a 85-metre jump which he wasn’t able to stand the day before, took the lead after landing a more successful try of 85 metres (113.5 p.). He started 14 seconds ahead of Slovenia’s Vid Vrhovnik and 18 seconds earlier than Vrhovnik’s teammte Urj Krajncan who landed at 80 and 81 metres.
The Slovenes were not able to hold on to their good results in the race and had to let the strong skiers go. Lightning-fast Paul Gerstgraser who had ranked 12th after the ski jumping with a time disadvantage of 40 seconds only needed the seventh-fastest cross-country time of the day to win 2.7 seconds ahead of Marco Beikircher. Germany’s Maik Hanzlik improved an eighteenth rank after jumping into a final third by beating out France’s Antoine Gerard and Germans Terence Weber and Vinzenz Geiger who all finished within 3 seconds of Hanzlik. The fastest man on the track was Austrian Bernhard Flaschberger who needed 13:11.6 for the 5 kilometres.
Germany’s Vinzenz Geiger was announced Man of the Day, the young athlete with the best performance after turning an eighth jumping rank (79m, 106.5 p., +00:28) to a final sixth place. The yellow Alpencup leader bib went to Paul Gerstgraser who leads with 140 points after two events, followed by teammates Noa Mraz (126) and Marco Beikircher (100).