The Open Finnish Nationals were held in Rovaniemi on the past weekend and in the strong international field consisting of athletes from Japan, Austria, the Czech Republic, Korea, Estonia and Finland, it was still three Finnish athletes who prevailed.
Eero Hirvonen took the win in the event and the Finnish national title 2017 by beating teammates Arttu Mäkiaho by 19.3 and Leevi Mutru by 33 seconds. The best international athletes were Austrian Willi Denifl and teammate Mario Seidl on ranks four and five (+34.5 and +34.9 seconds behind Hirvonen).
Hirvonen and reingning Junior World Champion Mäkiaho shared the lead after the jumping event. Both accumulated 132.5 points on Rovaniemi’s HS 100 hill after jumping 98.5 and 99 metres respectively. Austrian jumping sensation Mario Seidl started his race just two seconds later. His 98.5 metre-jump had given him 132 points. Also in promising positions were Estonia’s Kristjan Ilves with a delay of eight seconds at the start line and Wilhelm Denifl and Christian Deuschl with 22 and 26 seconds to make up each.
Ilkka Herola started with a delay of 42 seconds, veteran Hannu Manninen had to battle against one minute and 16 seconds. The fastest man on the track, however, was Austrian Paul Gerstgraser, who skied the 10 kilometre distance in 21:09.9, Manninen was the second fastest with 21:14.8. In the end, these skiing results catapulted Gerstgraser from position 21 to eight and Manninen from 19 to ten.
The leading duo of Hirvonen and Mäkiaho was not in any danger during the race. Hirvonen skied a solid 14th fastest time to give him his clear victory, Mäkiaho had the 18th fastest time to show for. Leevi Mutri showed an impressive performance on the skinny skis and catapulted himself from the ninth position to a podium finish on rank three. He passed big names like Mario Seidl Willi Denifl, Ilkka Herola and Phlipp Orter on the way.
Best Austrian Willi Denifl spoke to the Finnish team after the race: