24-year-old Russian Evgeniy Klimov won the first World Cup competition of the 2018/19 winter season. With jumps of 127.5 m and 131.5 m, Klimov scored 263.4 points and came in clearly ahead of second-placed Stephan Leyhe and Japanese Ryoyu Kobayashi. Right on time for the first individual competition of the season, also the weather finally looked liked winter. The competition was held in light snowfall and good conditions.
Ever since he took the overall title of this year's FIS Grand Prix and his win in Friday's qualification it was clear that Evgeniy Klimov is in a great shape. The seemingly shy former Nordic Combined skier of Russia proved in today's competition in Wisla that he can handle the pressure of being the half-time leader. He was unimpressed by the fact that it was about claiming his first ever win in the World Cup and Klimov also showed the best jump in the second round.
Winner of the competition, overall World Cup leader and making sports history: Klimov's success in Wisla was the first ever win for a Russian ski jumper in the World Cup. "The atmosphere was really fantastic, everything was perfect. Thanks to the Polish fans for creating such an atmosphere. I also want to thank the organizers for the great preparation of the hill", the obviously impressed winner explained after the competition.
Just like Klimov, Stephan Leyhe also achieved his career-best result with the second place. So far his best result was the 5th place in PyeongChang (KOR) in the 2016/17 winter season. "I'm happy about my performance. This was the first World Cup podium of my career, and I was second again, like in the team competition yesterday. I had two good jumps. Huge congratulations to Evgeniy on his victory. Now I'm looking forward to the next competitions", said Leyhe.
With Japanese Ryoyu Kobayashi, also the third man on the podium was a newcomer, the third place was a career-best for him. Just like for Klimov and Leyhe, the strong performance of Ryoyu, the younger one of the Kobayashi brothers, is no real surprise. Kobayashi also presented himself extremely strong during this summer season. "I had quite good jumps in both rounds. The Polish fans were crazy and they were cheering for me, I enjoyed that a lot. The Kobayashi brothers love Poland", said Kobayashi, whose brother Junshiro won in Wisla last year.
Local hero and superstar Kamil Stoch missed the podium by only 0.3 points. But Stoch will easly get over it, as he proved in yesterday's team competition that he will have to be reckoned with among the very best this winter. The entire Polish team will be satisfied with the results this weekend. Piotr Zyla was sixth and Dawid Kubacki eighth today. The Poles had a good start of the season in Wisla.
There were some new faces among the best today, not only on the podium but also in the Top 10 with Slovenia's Timi Zajc and Finland's Antti Aalto. Timi Zajc has been considered the top talent of the Slovenian team for a while and with Antti Aalto a Finn finally achieved a top result again.
The 2018/19 season could become a winter of new faces and surprises.
Not only the Poles, but also the Germans showed a strong team performance. Besides Stephan Leyhe, Karl Geiger (9th), Andreas Wellinger (11th) and David Siegel (13th) achieved good results. The very good team performance was completed by Markus Eisenbichler in 15th and Richard Freitag in 22nd.
The competition did not go that well for the teams of Norway and Austria. Best Norwegian was Johann Andre Forfang in 10th, the best Austrian was Daniel Huber in 18th.
Now it will be interesting what happens in the two competitions next weekend in Ruka (FIN), where the athletes can expect the first real test this winter. The Rukatunturi close to the Arctic Circle is considered to be a challenging hill to jump on and the wind conditions are often difficult.
There's we'll see whether the jumpers who surprised today are really on their way to the top of the field or if the more experienced athletes will come out on top again.
Severin Freund will make his comeback in Ruka, and maybe Slovenia's Peter Prevc will as well.