Jan Schmid takes his revenge in Hakuba
Jan Schmid won the second of two Individual Gundersen races in Hakuba and stayed on Akito Watabe’s heels in terms of the overall standings. Kristjan Ilves lead for long stretches of the race and claimed his maiden podium result, a second place, finishing 6.6 seconds after Schmid. Watabe and a strong Tomas Portyk sprinted for the third place and only a photo finish was able to decide the winner: Watabe took the third place by 0.1 seconds.
Kristjan Ilves had won the jumping round with a jump of 123.5 metres in difficult tail wind conditions. 123.3 point gave Ilves a 13-second head start on Japanese youngster Yuto Nakamura, who entered the leader board with bib no. 2 and stayed almost to the end. Nakamura showed 126 metres, together with Harald Riiber’s 127 metres the longest jumps of the day. Riiber claimed the third place with 116.2 points and trailed Ilves with 28 seconds.
Sindre Ure Søtvik, Tomas Portyk and Tobias Simon also claimed good starting positions with ranks four till six. Favourites Jan Schmid and Akito Watabe did not have the best jumps and had only 117.5 and 116 metres to show for. They started the race together and faced off on the track with starting times of +1:14 and +1:17.
The race was a tight and action-packed affair in which Kristjan Ilves defended himself superbly. Ilves stayed strong for the whole duration of the race and braved having to take the lead with some wind from the front until the last uphill. While fighting valiantly, Ilves was no match for a Jan Schmid, who left Akito Watabe and Tomas Portyk, who had been the other fiercest of Ilves’s pursuers behind and almost flew up the uphill to catch Ilves.
However, the visibly tired Estonian was not discouraged and just stuck to Schmid’s back, skiing to a maiden second place in the World Cup. Behind these two another drama unfolded: local hero Watabe wanted to please the again large crowd and not let Schmid take the yellow bib from him, while young Czech athlete Tomas Portyk was hunting the first podium of his career as well. In the end, Watabe beat Portyk in a finish line sprint but the Czech still has to be complimented on a strong, courageous race.
Manuel Faißt claimed position five, Lukas Greiderer the sixth place, Harald Riiber ended the race on position seven and Go Yamamoto finished eighth. Tim Hug shook of the bad results of the season to come back with a ninth rank and Terence Weber closed out the Top Ten. The fastest athlete on the track was Truls Johansen, who needed 24:13.9 for the 10 km and improved from position 37 to 28.