Triumph for local hero Kamil Stoch
In an incredible final local hero Kamil Stoch took the win in Sunday's competition in Zakopane (POL). In front of 40 000 enthusiastic fans Stoch, who was sixth after the first round, had an outstanding jump in the final round. At the end he won with 287.4 points (130.5 m and 131 m), ahead of the three Germans Andreas Wellinger, Richard Freitag and Markus Eisenbichler. This was the 20th win in the World Cup for Kamil Stoch, the fifth this winter and the fourth in a row.
Pure emotions at the Wielka Krokiew hill in Zakopane after Richard Freitag made his second jump and it became clear that local hero Kamil Stoch was the winner. 30 000 fans, among them the Polish president Andrzej Duda, celebrated the winner. "I can't believe it, it's like a dream", the obviously moved winner said in front of his cheering fans after his triumph. Again and again Stoch tried to find the right words in the many interviews.
"Of course I'm satisfied with what I achieved today, especially my second jump was really good. The level of the competition was very high and even though the spectators might not have seen it, the conditions were difficult. The wind was changing a lot. After the first round I didn't think about the podium anymore, I was just focusing on my jump. I want to thank all the fans here and in front of the TV, it was great", the double Olympic champion from Sochi said after the competition.
In the final round Markus Eisenbichler, Daniel Andre Tande, Michael Hayboeck, Andreas Wellinger and Richard Freitag, who was in the lead after the first round, could not get ahead of Kamil Stoch after his jump of 131 m. But, besides Stoch, the German team is also a winner of the weekend in Zakopane. After their victory in Saturday's team competition, the athletes of head coach Werner Schuster did great again on Sunday. Andreas Wellinger in second, Richard Freitag in third, Markus Eisenbichler in fourth, Karl Geiger in eleventh and Stephan Leyhe in 16th provided an outstanding team result and this comes right on time for the upcoming home events in Willingen and Oberstdorf.
"This was a great competition, the crowd is amazing, every competitor feels like home here. It was an incredible moment when 40 000 people sang the national anthem during the award ceremony. I will continue to work hard and take it step by step, maybe then I can beat Kamil one day", said Andreas Wellinger, who was already third in Wisla and achieved his second podium result in Poland today.
Richard Freitag ended an about two-year dry spell without a podium result with his third place. "Regarding the weather conditions it was one of the best weekends we had in Zakopane for a while. The fans are really fair and cheered for all the athletes, it's really something special to jump in front of such a big crowd. My goal are the World Championships in Lahti, there I want to win a medal in the team and also in the indivdiual. This weekend was a step in the right direction."
"This atmosphere here in Zakopane is incredible, during my jump they were cheering as if I was a Pole, that's special", Karl Geiger was also impressed by the atmosphere at the Wielka Krokiew hill in Zakopane.
Norway's Daniel Andre Tande, fourth after the first round, came in seventh. "I was too aggressive in my second jump, it was my own mistake. This happens in Ski Jumping", Tande said self-critical after the final. "But the hill in Willingen suits me well, I'll attack again there", said the Norwegian, who is already looking forward to next weekend.
Michael Hayboeck was the only Austrian among the best today. Manuel Fettner came in 17th and could, to some degree, follow up on his recent performances. Markus Schiffner and Andreas Kofler were 28th and 29th, Gregor Schlierenzauer missed the final of the Top 30 in 33rd. Besides Schlierenzauer other well-known names also failed to make the cut, among them Johann Andre Forfang, Simon Ammann, Janne Ahonen and Jurij Tepes.
Kamil Stoch extended his lead in the overall World Cup. With now 933 points he leads ahead of Daniel Andre Tande (803 points) and Domen Prevc (780 points).
The next competitions will be held in Willingen (GER) next weekend.