Krzysztof Biegun wins dramatic World Cup opener
A total of 20 00 fans saw a spectacular Ski Jumping World Cup opening in Klingenthal. Krzysztof Biegun (POL) took the win in this winter's first individual World Cup event.
A delay of about three hours, a cancellation of the second round, a voluntary withdrawal of Gregor Schlierenzauer and Anders Bardal: The World Cup opening in Klingenthal was a memorable event. That underdog Krzysztof Biegun celebrated his first World Cup win became almost a footnote. With 142.5 m the young Pole took the lead very early in the competition. Only Andreas Wellinger (132 m) and Slovenia's Jurij Tepes (134.5 m) could keep up, finishing in second and third.
The wind in Vogtland-Arena was strong and gusty already in the morning, with up to 11 m/s at the take-off table. The jury canceled the trial round that was originally scheduled for 12:30. The first round of the competition was postponed in 15-minute intervals from 13:30 to 15:15. When the competition finally started, the spectators saw some great jumps, with Biegun's jump as the highlight. After about half of the field jumped, the headwind decreased. Favorites like Thomas Morgenstern (AUT) and the Germans Andreas Wank and Severin Freund had no chance. Andreas Wellinger and Jurij Tepes had more luck and had good jumps that earned them a good position.
After World Champion Kamil Stoch struggled with the wind and landed after 117 m the jury interrupted the competition again. Only Anders Bardal (NOR) and Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT) were left at the start. Then a surprise came a few minutes later: Both voluntarily decided not to jump. It became clear that the round would count as a result and there would be no second jump.
That didn't matter to Biegun: "I didn't expect to win here. I'm very happy. It was not easy, but I was jumping well."
Second-place Andreas Wellinger was also happy about his good start to the season: "I had a good jump and I'm happy about the result. The competition was not totally fair, but the result counts."
About the withdrawal of Bardal and Schlierenzauer he added: "I would have waited for a decision of the jury or the coach. But everyone has to make his own decision."
Also Jurij Tepes was predominantly happy: "The conditions were not easy. Of course I'm happy about the result. I don't want to comment on the decisions of the jury."
FIS stated about the confusing situation: Before the start of the last athletes in the first round of the competition, Anders Bardal (NOR) and Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT), there was a longer break due to the wind conditions. During this break the two athletes decided not to jump. Hence the result of the first round counted without these two jumpers. The wind conditions would have allowed a start, this was reviewed confirmed by Miran Tepes. Alex Stoeckl, coach of Anders Bardal, who decided not to start, confirmed that the jury didn't make any mistakes. The team of Austria issued a protest after the first round, this protest was reviewed by the jury and declined."
Whether the sporting value of this first World Cup weekend was high or not, remains to be seen over the next couple of weeks.
But there's no doubt that Austria and Norway still have some work to do. Despite the cancellation of the final rounds in both competitions, their performances were not enough for a top result. Especially Anders Bardal and Gregor Schlierenzauer underachieved in the team competition.
Austria now has to hope that Andreas Kofler, who fell in Klingenthal, will recover quickly. Kofler lost his balance after the landing and crashed into the side boards. After an initial check, the team doctors diagnosed a bruised rib. The best Norwegian in the individual competition was Ole Marius Ingvaldsen as 13th, the rest of the team was not in the Top 25.
The Slovenes and the Germans earned attention this weekend with podium results in the team and the individual competitions. Poland closely missed the podium in the team event, but they were rewarded with Biegun's first win in the World Cup. The Japanese, third in the team event, were also among the best today with Taku Takeuchi as fourth. With Watase, Kasai and Shimizu three more athletes of Japan were in the Top 30.
The performance of the small Swiss team was also a positive surprise. They closely missed the qualification for the final in the team competition, but Simon Ammann was seventh in the individual competition and Gregor Deschwanden achieved his best World Cup results as tenth. While Jan Matura missed the final today as 32nd, veteran Jakub Janda came in at 12th place.
Dimitry Vassiliev, on Saturday one of the reason for the bad performance of the Russian team, he was their best as 18th. The Russian shared this place with Austrian Wolfgang Loitzl. With a 16th place of Janne Ahonen and a 20th place of Janne Happonen it was a good of the season for Finland. The athletes of France and Italy were not among the best today.