OPA victories for Mraz and Jöbstl
On a busy competition weekend which saw the first Olympic training of the Nordic Combined athletes, three Continental Cup competitions in Klingenthal, Germany, the young athletes from the OPA countries also met in Kranj, Slovenia for two individual competitions.
In Saturday's 10 kilometre race, Noa Ian Mroz from Austria celebrated his maiden victory ahead of teammate Fabian Steindl and Raffele Buzzi from Italy. Mraz, who is starting for the club SG Klagenfurt-Kärnten finished 11.8 seconds earlier than Steindl, Buzzi came in 12.1 seconds after the winner.
At halftime, the first two ranks had been firmly in had of the home team from Slovenia. Leon Sarc lead the field with a jump of 103.5 metres on Kranj's HS 109 hill which gave him 119.7 points and a time advantage of 6 seconds on his teammate Aljaz Osterc who accumulated 118.2 points with a jump of 102.5 metres. Janni Reisenauer from Austria held the intermediate third position with 104 metres (116 p.), the longest jump of the day.
Winner Mraz had been lying in a ninth position with 43 seconds of time disadvantage on Sarc. In the race, the third fastest time was enough for Mraz to catch up with the leaders who ended up on a 26th and 55th rank. The fastest man on the 10 kilometres was once more Austria's Paul Gerstgraser who needed 23:44.6 for the 4 times 2.5 kilometres.
On Sunday, the 5 kilometre sprint race was on schedule and also this time, the victory went to Austria. Thomas Wolfgang Jöbstl and Philipp Kreuzer fought for the win in a finish line sprint which was decided by 00:00.7 seconds in favour of Jöbstl. Teammate Fabian Steindl crosed the finish line 1.2 seconds later, making it a triple Austrian win.
The ski jumping competition saw all first four places taken by the Austrian junior squad with Philipp Beikircher leading the field at the intermediate point with a great jump of 105.5 metres, giving him four seconds of head start on Janni Reisenauer who jumped 102.5 metres (116.7 p.). David Wiegelde And Fabian Steindl completed the Austrian lead, sending the Austrian foursome out on the track within 12 seconds of each other. Raffaele Buzzi followed with 17 second of time behind, Paul Hanf and Urh Krajncan with 21 seconds each.
Jöbstl who held a 14th position skied the second fastest time on the sprint distance and claimed the top spot on the podium. Only cross-country specialist Paul Gerstgraser was faster, needing 11:19.3 on the sprint distance, proving he was the fastest athlete of the weekend be it 5 or 10 km. He ranked 10th in the end, improving a 38th rank to a Top Ten finish.
For the overall, this means that the lead has gone to Austria's Fabian Steindl who currently holds 570 points. Germany's Terence Weber who did not compete this weekend follows with 557 points, newly minted triple Junior World Champion Philipp Orter follows on the third position with 406 points.