The Slovenian veteran Robert Kranjec could finish on top in the first of three Continental Cup competitions held this weekend in Sapporo (JPN).
The 36-year-old former Ski Flying World Champion, who is known to be an expert for the very big hills, took his first win since September 2016, when he was the best in the FIS Grand Prix in Chaikovsky, in Friday's normal hill competition with jumps of 96 m and 92.5 m and 215.7 points. It was his 12th win in the COC, the last one before that dates back to July 2011. His first statement after the competition was short and on point: "I'm happy, it was a good competition."
With two jumps of 92.5 m, Sondre Ringen of Norway came in second only 0.2 points behind Robert Kranjec and secured a career-best result in the COC only three weeks after he achieved his first podium finish in Titisee-Neustadt. "I had three good jumps today and I'm happy about this career best for me", said the 21-year-old.
The third place in the opening event of the long competition weekend in Japan went to Austria's Daniel Huber with 97 m and 92 m and a total of 206.7 points. "It was a difficult competition with snow, sun, and wind and that's why I'm even happier about my third place today. I showed decent jumps and I hope I can continue like that on the next days", said Daniel Huber.
Nejc Dezman of Slovenia was fourth and missed the podium by the tiny margin of only 0.3 points. Local hero Naoki Nakamura could celebrate a career-best fifth place on his home hill.
Best German athlete was David Siegel, who could move up from 16th to sixth overall with the best longest jump of the day on 99 m in the final round. Behind Robin Pedersen of Norway (7th), Austria's Florian Altenburger and Seou Choi of Korea tied for eighth. They were only 23rd and 15th after the first half of the competition and could also significantly improve their result in the second round.
Felix Hoffmann of Germany completed the Top 10, followed by his teammate Andreas Wank in eleventh.
Norway's Marius Lindvik, who is competing in the World Cup in Zakopane this weekend, leads the overall ranking of the Continentalcup with 556 points. Nejc Dezman (522 points) and Tomasz Pilch (492 points) are second and third.