Jarl Magnus Riiber celebrated the second World Cup victory of his career by out-sprinting German superstar Eric Frenzel on the home stretch. Franz-Josef Rehrl (AUT) finished his race on a career-best third position, +5.7 seconds after the winner.
A small portion of luck was needed in a windy jumping round but with Franz-Josef Rehrl and Mario Seidl on ranks one and two, the good jumpers of the field prevailed on the HS 98 Lysgårdsbakken in Lillehammer on Friday morning.
Rehrl sailed to 92.5 metres (138 p.) and lead the field into the 5 km cross-country race with an advantage of 27 seconds at the start line. Closest pursuer was teammate Mario Seidl, who landed a 91.5 metre jump after the jury had shortened the inrun by two gates. Norway’s Espen Bjørnstad delighted spectators with a 100 metre jump at the beginning of the round and spend large portions of the event in the lead. In the end, his effort meant rank three in the intermediate ranking and a delay of 34 seconds at the start line.
Behind the best three jumpers, Eric Frenzel and Jarl Magnus Riiber were gunning for the podium and started their races with delays of +0:44 and +0:47 seconds respectively. For Poland’s Sczepan Kupczak, young Norwegian Leif Torbjørn Næsvold and USA’s Taylor Flechter, the jumping round ended on a high note as well with ranks four, nine and 14. Tomas Portyk, Magnus Moan and Johannes Rydzek did not have luck with the wind conditions were today and had to be satisfied with intermediate positions 52, 47 and 45.
Even though the 5 km race is shorter in distance, the athletes were fully exhausted at the finish line, giving their all in an extended sprint on the skinny skis. While Franz-Josef Rehrl defended his lead for the first one and a half lap, it was at the last long uphill that Eric Frenzel, and Jarl Riiber finally caught up with the young Austrian.
Mario Seidl was the first athlete of the top group having to pay tribute to the extremely high pace that Eric Frenzel set in the race. Jarl Riiber and Espen Bjørnstad hung on for dear life but it was only Riiber, who was able to follow Frenzel’s attack and close the gap to Rehrl. Entering the home stretch of the race, Frenzel and Riiber were going head to head and it was Riiber who emerged victorious. In the end, 0.1 seconds separated the two athletes.
Franz-Josef Rehrl did not have the energy to challenge Riiber and Frenzel for the first two ranks anymore but was overjoyed with the first individual World Cup podium result of his career. 13 seconds after Riiber crossed the finish line, his teammate Espen Bjørnstad took career-best fourth position. Together with Espen Andersen on rank six, Jan Schmid on seven and youngster Einar Lurås Oftebro with another career-best performance on rank nine, the Norwegian home team had five athletes among the Top Ten. Mario Seidl on rank five, Go Yamamoto on position eight and Lukas Greiderer on rank ten completed the Top Ten.