It was not looking too good all day long for the opening Ski Flying event in Vikersund (NOR). Due to the strong wind the competition, which was included in the program as a replacement for the canceled competition in Lillehammer, could not be held. Then also the start of the training and the qualification had to be postponed various times before the athletes could finally start to fly at 7:30 pm CET.
At the end of a long day, that already started at 6:00 am with the trip from Trondheim to Vikersund, and only one training round on the Ski Flying hill, Kamil Stoch took the win in the qualification, like in Trondheim two days ago. The Pole had the longest jump of the day with 226.5 m and scored a total of 216.9 points.
Andreas Wellinger of Germany started from two gates lower than Kamil Stoch and came in second with 213 m and 214.1 points. For the 21-year-old Bavarian this was an important result for the RAW AIR overall ranking because Stefan Kraft already landed at 197 m (184.8 points) and lost the overall lead to Wellinger again. This duel will be exciting until the very end.
"It was not a perfect jump and it felt totally different than in the trial round, when I was extremely low over the knoll. Now I was higher. It felt like there was head wind and first but not during the last part of the flight. This means you have to fight a bit and that worked pretty for me today. The overall ranking will not be decided until the last jump, even if there's a difference of 30 or 40 points. I have to show solid jumps and then we'll see the result at the end", said Wellinger.
The third place in the qualification went to Slovenia's Domen Prevc with 220.5 m and 207.6 points. He was followed by Michael Hayboeck of Austria (213.5 m; 202.9 points) and Germany's Markus Eisenbichler (213.5 m; 200.6 points), who could score some important points in the fight for the third place on the overall podium.
44-year-old Noriaki Kasai, who was Ski Flying World Champion already in 1992, proved with 214.5 m and the sixth place that he still has to be reckoned with on the really large hills. Behind Maciej Kot of Poland (7th), the two Slovenian Ski Flying experts Jurij Tepes and Peter Prevc finished eighth and ninth.
After his second place on his home hill in Trondheim on Thursday, Andreas Stjernen was 12th today and suffered a little setback in the battle for a RAW AIR podium finish. The same applies for this teammate Johann Andre Forfang, who was only 17th this evening. Their young fellow countryman Halvor Egner Granerud could show a convincing performance with strong 210 m and a 15th place.
The two US Americans Kevin Bickner and Michael Glasder, Alex Insam of Italy and Stefan Huber, who took the place of Andreas Kofler on the Austrian team for Vikersund, will also be competing in the final event of the RAW AIR Tour on Sunday afternoon.
Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes of Canada and Swiss Gregor Deschwanden failed the cut for the competition by only 0.5 points. Stephan Leyhe, Taku Takeuchi, Jan Ziobro and Tom Hilde are also among those, who failed to qualify.
Before the final two competitions on Saturday (team) and Sunday (individual) Andreas Wellinger now leads in the RAW AIR overall ranking with 1445.9 points, ahead of Stefan Kraft (1421.9 points) and Markus Eisenbichler (1406.8 points). Andreas Stjernen, Kamil Stoch and Peter Prevc follow on the place four to six.
The team competition in Vikersund starts on Saturday at 4:15 pm CET, the individual event follows on Sunday at 2:15 pm CET.