Austria's ski jumpers are back on top. The team of head coach Andreas Felder (Philipp Aschenwald, Gregor Schlierenzauer, Michael Hayboeck, Stefan Kraft) won the team competition in Lahti (FIN) this evening with 953.6 points, followed by the team of Germany (Karl Geiger, Richard Freitag, Andreas Wellinger, Stephan Leyhe) and Japan (Yukiya Sato, Daiki Ito, Junshiro Kobayashi, Ryoyu Kobayashi).
It was an exciting battle at the top, Germany and Austria were separated by only 0.5 points before the final jump. In the end, Stefan Kraft scored the decisive points in his duel with Stephan Leyhe and secured the first win for Austria in almost two years. The last time the Austrians won a team competition was in March 2017 in Oslo. "For me personally, it's nice to be back in the World Cup and it's great for the entire team that we could win here in Lahti today. I have a few tough weeks behind me during which I was training very hard. This pays off now, but, to be honest, there's still a lot of work left to do. We are a young team and today's win is a great motivation for all of us before the World Championships at home in Seefeld", Gregor Schlierenzauer explained after the competition.
Karl Geiger spoke for the German team after the competition and was very satisfied with the second place: "This was the best competition for me in a while. The past weeks were difficult for me, but with this competition today and the jumps yesterday I gained a lot of self-confidence again. Now I hope that I can show similar jumps tomorrow", Karl Geiger summed up his day.
Ryoyu Kobayashi earned the third place for his team with his final jump. Japan came in close ahead of the favorites from Poland. The fifth place went to Slovenia.
For the athletes of Switzerland, it was a successful day with the sixth place. Simon Ammann convinced with a strong performance, just like youngster Dominik Peter, Kilian Peier and Andreas Schuler secured the strong team result.
The Finns might have wished for more than the eighth place, but qualification for the final round is also a success for them.
So far it's been a really bad winter for the team of Norway. In Lahti, they wanted to make amends for the tenth and eighth place in this winter's previous team competition in Wisla and Zakopane, but the team of Alex Stoeckl suffered yet another setback in today's event. First, Daniel Andre Tande fell in Training on Friday and could not jump today due to knee problems. Then Andreas Stjernen, who replaced Tande on the team, crashed in the trial round right before the competition. Stjernen did take part in the competition but landed - obviously still in shock after his crash - already after about 80 m. Norway finished only ninth, clearly not what they are actually capable of.
The motto for the Norwegians now has to be: Forget about how the winter went so far and take all the energy for Willingen and the World Championships, then they can still be successful at the WSC.
The second competition in Lahti starts on Sunday at 4:15 pm CET (5:15 pm LOC).