The Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang started for the ski jumpers already before the opening ceremony on Friday with two training session on Wednesday.
In the first training around noon, the Polish jumpers presented themselves in a strong shape and reigning Olympic champion Kamil Stoch proved once again that he will be one of the top contenders for gold this year as well.
The 30-year-old 4-Hills-Tournament winner was among the best in all three training rounds with the places two, one and three and had his longest jump in the second round with 108.5 m. His teammate Dawid Kubacki confirmed his currently great shape in first, third and ninth today and Stefan Hula and Maciej Kot also had some good jumps on the HS 109.
Germany's Stephan Leyhe convinced with consistently good jumps in this first official training and had a good start to this Olympic Games with the places four, four and seven and his best jump of 106 m. With Markus Eisenbichler, third in the first round (104.5 m), Karl Geiger, fifth in the third round (106 m) and Andreas Wellinger, who had the longest jump of this training with 110.5 m in the third round, three other German athletes showed good performances as well.
Manuel Fettner was the best Austrian in sixth, second and eighth, Junshiro Kobayashi of Japan did well especially in the first (5th) and third (4th) round. Vladimir Zografski of Bulgaria surprised with a very good fourth place in the second round.
Only a few hours later, the next three training rounds in the Alpensia Ski Jumping Center were held Wednesday evening. And there the Norwegians, who didn't jump in the morning, and Michael Hayboeck could show convincing performances.
The Austrian, who wasn't that strong in the first training, was the best in the first round of this session with 106.5 m and came in second in round 2. The 26-year-old then skipped the third jump.
The Norwegians, who are usually considered specialists for the bigger hills, also had some really strong jumps. Robert Johansson was the best in the second round with 106.5 m and came in third in the other two rounds. Johann Andre Forfang finished second in the first and third round and had his best jump with 105 m.
Andreas Wellinger confirmed the strong impression from earlier today especially with his first place in the third and final round of the day. Markus Eisenbichler, Karl Geiger, and Stephan Leyhe were also among the best again. Richard Freitag had some problems in today's first training, but with his sixth place in the second round, he proved that he can also achieve top results on this hill.
US American Kevin Bickner (eighth and seventh) and Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes of Canada (ninth and fifth in the rounds 2 and 3) also showed strong performances.
After their very good jumps in the first session, the Polish team did not participate in the second official training in the evening.
Considering the strong performances of his athletes, German head coach Werner Schuster was obviously satisfied with the first day in PyeongChang: "It was an intense and nice training day. The conditions were very good, especially in the evening. We wanted to use this training to adjust to the normal hill, which is normally not on the World Cup calendar."
Werner Schuster already named the German competitors for the qualification on Thursday after this training. Besides Richard Freitag, Andreas Wellinger and Markus Eisenbichler, Karl Geiger will also get the chance to compete. "He prevailed in a very close race over Stephan Leyhe", said Schuster.