Team Sprint victory for Graabak/Andersen in Val di Fiemme
Norway has taken the first non-German victory of the winter of 2016/17. Espen Andersen had his debut on top of the podium together with teammate Jørgen Graabak. The duo beat the surprise runners-up Miroslav Dvorak and Tomas Portyk from the Czech Republic in a finish line sprint by just 0.3 seconds. Italy’s Alessandro Pittin and Samuel Costa conquered the remaining podium spot. They finished 0.9 seconds behind the winners.
Largely due to a great jump by German youngster Terence Weber, Team Germany II held the pole position at the intermediate point of the competition. 130.5 metres was the longest jump of the day and combined with Rießle’s 123.5 metres, this gave the Germans 253.9 points. Their point total translated into a head start of five seconds before Espen Andersen and Jørgen Graabak followed.
Third place after the jumping event went to Japan II. Taihei Kato and Go Yamamoto did not disappoint on the hill and collected 246.1 points with jumps of 122 and 125 metres. This meant a handicap of 16 seconds at the start of the race.
While youngster Weber is not yet known as the strongest skier, Olympic Champion Jørgen Graabak was facing challenges due to an injured rib from a jumping crash in training in Lahti. This situation meant that teams coming from a little further behind saw a chance to catch up and fight for the podium. One of these teams was the local heroes Samuel Costa and Alessandro Pittin. While Pittin is known as one of the fastest skiers on the tour, Samuel Costa has shown stable top ten results on this and the past weekend and with 59 seconds to make up, they were not to be counted out.
The race turned into a true nail biter as a leading group with five athletes (including the leaders from Germany II, Norway I, Czech Republic I, Finland I and Japan II) formed quite quickly into the race. From the second exchange onwards, the leaders kept a slower speed with athletes alternating in the lead while the teams from France and especially from Italy I with Pittin and Costa gave their utmost to close the gap to this leading group. Pittin managed this at the fifth exchange to Costa and from this point on, the tactical games began.
All teams tried to conserve energy, which resulted in the decision for the podium to be made on the last lap. Espen Andersen exchanged to Graabak as the first of the leading group at the last exchange but attacks were made by Pittin and Graabak on the last lap without them being able to shake Ilkka Herola for Team Finland and Miroslav Dvorak for Team Czech Republic.
In a final finish line sprint, Graabak had the best position in the middle lane but had to take care not to lose by a few centimetres to an extremely strong Miroslav Dvorak to his right. Alessandro Pittin held off Herola and also Rießle, who could not fully close the gap that had opened up in teammate Weber’s last lap and finished 11.6 seconds behind the winners.
Team Germany I (Lange/Faißt) improved to a final position of sixth, while the fastest team on the track was Team Fletcher for USA. They moved from position 16 at the start to a rank of eighth.
Ski Jumping Results