There were two winners in the first of two Ski Jumping World Cups in Sapporo (JPN). Poland's Maciej Kot and Slovenia's Peter Prevc tied for first in Saturday's FIS Ski Jumping World Cup. Both scored a total of 260.2 points. Prevc jumped on 143 m (longest jump of the day) and 134 m, Maciej Kot had jumps of 139 m and 138 m. Austria's Stefan Kraft, who won in Oberstdorf twice last weekend and is still in a top shape, came in third, Andreas Wellinger closely missed the podium.
This was the first win in the World Cup for Maciej Kot: "It feels great to win. It's my first win in the World Cup, hopefully it won't be my last. It wasn't an easy competition for me, the weather was not that good, but I had two really good jumps. I was working very hard to achieve this and it means a lot to me. Before my second jump I didn't think about the possible victory. I was in similar situations in summer, when I was in the lead after the first round. This made it easier for me now. I was also in the lead in Klingenthal this season and learned a lot then."
For Prevc this was the first win this season, after the Slovene dominated the last winter. "I'm really happy. It has been quite a long time since my last podium. I was not that good in the trial round today, but I knew what I had to do to jump far in the competition. In the first round I also had good conditions. I hope I can perform that well again tomorrow, just be calm and enjoy jumping", said Prevc, who was cheered on by many Slovenian fans. This was already his 22nd win in the World Cup, the fourth in Sapporo. Prevc won a competition in Sapporo in each of the last four seasons.
Only 2.7 points behind, Stefan Kraft was third: "Yesterday I was struggling a bit here on this hill, but today I had a really good feeling right from the start. It's fantastic that I could be on the podium again. I feel really good right now, I enjoy jumping and that's why it's going so well. I never have problems with the time difference, I like such trips and now together with PyeongChang I think it's very cool. One of my goals this year was to be among the best in the overall World Cup and I will definitely fight for it."
Kraft is third in the overall World Cup with 980 points, he is now exactly 100 points behind leader Kamil Stoch, who had a big mistake in the second round and finished only 18th today. Norway's Daniel Andre Tande, who was seventh on Saturday, is second with 989 points.
Wellinger and Eisenbichler strong
Andreas Wellinger missed the podium in fourth. The Bavarian came in ten points behind Stefan Kraft in third. Behind Czech Roman Koudelka (5th), Markus Eisenbichler, who showed yet another convincing performance, was sixth. With Richard Freitag, who tied for eleventh with Swiss Simon Ammann, and Karl Geiger in 13th, the German jumpers achieved a top team result. Besides today's winner Maciej Kot, Jan Ziobro (9th) and Piotr Zyla (10th) also achieved Top 10 results for Poland. The Polish team has a clear lead ahead of Austria and Germany in the Nation's Cup and is the favorite for the World Championships in Lahti (FIN) starting two weeks from now.
Domen Prevc last with 97 m
The Prevc brothers had some ups and downs today, despite Peter's success. 17-year-old Domen Prevc, who was in an outstanding shape earlier this season, is not doing well in Sapporo this weekend. The youngest of the three brothers had not one normal jump here so far, although he was on the podium at this venue last year. Domen Prevc is far from finding his flying system. His brother Cene also failed to qualify for the final round in 44th.
Disappointing day for the hosts
Besides Taku Takeuchi and veteran Noriaki Kasai, four other athletes of Japan also missed the cut for the final round. Only Daiki Ito, Yuken Iwasa and Junshiro Kobayashi represented Team Nippon in the Top 30. "Of course Noriaki can do better. Today he had difficult conditions right after the take-off and the jump was not that good either", Kasai's Finnish coach Janne Vaeaetaeinen explained the early end of the competition for the crowd's favorite.
The second competition in Sapporo will start on Sunday at 10:00 am local time (2:00 am CET).