Norway's Andreas Stjernen won the first Ski Flying event of the winter on the legendary Kulm-hill in Austria. With jumps of 229 m and 226 m, the 29-year-old came in ahead of his teammate Daniel Andre Tande in a great Ski Flying competition. The third place surprisingly went to Swiss veteran Simon Ammann.
Stjernen scored 407.6 points with his two flights and finished 2.5 points ahead of Daniel Andre Tande, who the longest jump of the day in the final round with 240.5 m. For Stjernen this was the first World Cup win of his career, so far the Norwegian finished second twice (Trondheim 2017 and Oberstdorf Ski Flying 2013).
"It was amazing. I have been fighting for this for many years now and I was close to winning before and to finally do it now is amazing. I have had a good feeling here right from the start. In Ski Flying I'm usually a lot more nervous before the first jump because we don't train on these hills. Ski Flying is maybe the best thing to do", said the happy winner.
His teammate Daniel Andre Tande almost took the win from Stjernen. With an amazing flight of 240.5 m, he moved up from seventh after the first round to second overall, with only 2.5 points less than the winner. "When I was flying that far in the final round this was maybe the most insane feeling I have ever had because I was so high. When I was flying over the knoll it felt as if I would be flying all the way to the audience. I made a small mistake in the first round and just tried to do a better jump. My only expectation for tomorrow is to have fun because this is what Ski Flying is all about. We don't get the chance to jump over 200 m that often so I just try to enjoy it", said Tande.Simon Ammann overjoyed
Four-time Olympic Champion Simon Ammann of Switzerland surprised in third today. After a long dry spell, Ammann jumped on 218 m and 227.5 m and achieved his first podium finish since March 2015 (Kuopio/FIN). And so the Swiss was celebrating enthusiastically in the outrun and probably every one of the many spectators was happy for him. The Olympic Games in South Korea start in less than four weeks and Simon Ammann is getting in shape. If that's not a statement. "I had a crazy time during the 4-Hills-Tournament. Previously I couldn't always show my good training performances also in the competition. That it worked so well today is really good for me, the moment you realize you are on the podium is fantastic. I've had difficult days here on the Kulm before and so I really enjoy these good days. I don't have any big goals for tomorrow because at my age I'm already happy when the legs work well", said the Swiss.
Robert Johansson completed the outstanding team result of the Norwegians in fourth. The team of Norway is the top favorite for the team competition at the upcoming Ski Flying World Championships in Oberstdorf (GER). The only bad news today for the Norwegians was the disqualification of Johann Andre Forfang. He and Slovenia's Jernej Damjan were both disqualified because their suits did not meet the rules. Reason for the disqualifications was the air permeability of the fabric.
Besides Ammann, two other experienced ski flyers achieved top results as well today with Noriaki Kasai in fifth and Peter Prevc in sixth.
Germans and Poles not among the very best
Best German athlete was Markus Eisenbichler in tenth, Andreas Wellinger finished 15th, Stephan Leyhe was 20th, Pius Paschke 27th, and Andreas Wank 40th. Karl Geiger couldn't qualify for the competition. Best of the Polish team was Stefan Hula in 14th, Piotr Zyla was 21st and 4-Hills-Tournament winner Kamil Stoch was 21st.
With the places 7 (Clemens Aigner) and 9 (Stefan Kraft) the Austrians did well in front of their home crowd. Michael Hayboeck in 12th and Manuel Poppinger in 19th completed the good team result.
The second competition on the Kulm on Sunday will start at 2:15 pm CET.