Poland fights back in Willingen

The Polish ski jumpers around superstar Kamil Stoch won Saturday's team competition on the Muehlenkopf-hill in Willingen. Maciej Kot, Piotr Zyla, Dawid Kubacki and the outstanding Kamil Stoch came in ahead of the teams of Austria and Germany.

21 000 fans in the sold-out arena had all the reason to hope for a win of the leading German team after the first half of the competition, but at the end the Poles and the Austrians were too strong for the Germans. For the team of Poland (931.5 points) this was the second win in a World Cup team competition, the athletes of head coach Stefan Horngacher took their first win earlier this season in Klingenthal (GER).

Crucial for the success of Poland today was the tight team performance, none of the four athletes had a bad jump. "We had eight good jumps today and that made the difference and was the key to our success. It was a lot of fun to jump here in Willingen. Our team spirit is really good and our coach Stefan Horngacher has a lot of influence on the atmosphere within our team", Maciej Kot explained and added that "the level is very high at the moment. About ten athletes can win in the World Cup right now. Of course I hope that tomorrow one of us will be able to win here in Willingen."

The team of Austria showed a strong performance and came in second (919.2 points). If Stefan Kraft would not have had such a bad jump in the first round, a win would have been possible for the Austrians. Kraft jumped only on 127.5 m in the first round and the team of Heinz Kuttin was far behind. But Gregor Schlierenzauer, Manuel Fettner and Michael Hayboeck fought back and closed the gap to the top. At the end it was Stefan Kraft who secured the second place for his team with an amazing jump on 142 m. "This is a nice success for our team. The entire team is happy about this result. I still have lots of room for improvement. There's still a lot of work left to do but from time to time I can show a really good jump, like in the trial round today. I will now continue working and take it step by step", Schlierenzauer summed up the competition.

The German team lost the fight for the second place. While Markus Eisenbichler and Andreas Wellinger, who had the longest jump of the day with 145 m, showed great peformances, Stephan Leyhe and Richard Freitag didn't have their best day and so it was only enough for the third place. "We made mistakes today and were not good enough. We have to accept that. But it's a success to be on the podium, that's not that easy with all the strong teams", Markus Eisenbichler said after the competition. The third place today with a total of 910.7 points is okay for the German team. The final team event before the World Championships in Lahti was a success for the athletes of head coach Werner Schuster. Four teams can hope for gold four weeks from now, and the Germans are one of them.

About 120 points behind, the fourth place went to Slovenia (791.2 points), Norway finished fifth. Russia showed a good performance and was sixth, followed by Finland (7th) and Japan (8th).

The team of the Czech Republic failed to qualify for the final of the Top 8.

The individual competition in Willingen will start on Sunday at 3:05 pm CET.