Richard Freitag won a real Ski Jumping nailbiter on Saturday evening in Nizhny Tagil. After he was eighth in the first round (135 m), Freitag jumped on 137 m in the final and took his sixth win in the World Cup, the first since January 2015. The two Norwegians Daniel Andre Tande and Johann Andre Forfang followed close behind in second and third. With his win today, Freitag also took the lead in the overall World Cup.
Freitag the well-deserved winner
Also this winter's third individual competition was extremely exciting. After the wins of Junshiro Kobayashi of Japan in Wisla and Slovenia's Jernej Damjan in Ruka, Germany's Richard Freitag was the winner this time. Freitag had already shown a top jump in the first round, but he lost many points with his bad landing. So the 26-year-old was only eighth after the first half of the competition. In the final round, Freitag then had a great jump of 137 m and that was too good for the other contenders.
"In the first round I had some problems with the landing and it's so close in the World Cup right now that you need every point you can get. Then I just wanted to do my best again in the second round and I had a really good jump. A lot of athletes are really strong this winter. It's so very close and that makes Ski Jumping extremely interesting. It is so much fun to watch and feel the energy. After the competition everyone congratulates each other, that's just a great Ski Jumping family. I'm really happy that I can wear the yellow bib for the first time now and I'll definitely fight to defend it in the next competitions", the enthusiastic winner said after the competition.
Tande and Forfang on a hunt for records
With Daniel Andre Tande and Johann Forfang, two Norwegians finished in second and third, and it was really close. Third-placed Forfang (264.3 points) came in only the tiny margin of 0.1 points ahead of Stefan Kraft (AUT) and Andreas Wellinger (GER), who tied for fourth. This is another proof that it's extremely close at the top of the World Cup right now. Tande and Forfang showed their flying skills and improved the hill record on the HS 134 in Nizhny Tagil twice. In the first round, Daniel Andre Tande jumped on 141 m and improved the record of 140 m set by Johann Forfang in December 2015. Forfang then fought back in the final and landed at 141.5 m. "In the first round, I was quite high right after the take-off. It was a hill record, but Johann took it right back later. Hopefully, I can take it back from him tomorrow", said Tande. "The conditions were changing, you had to have a bit of luck, but it was a lot of fun to jump", Forfang told after the competition.
Geiger can't defend half-time lead
Besides the winner Richard Freitag and Andreas Wellinger in fourth, Karl Geiger completed the top result for Germany. Geiger was in the lead after the first round, in the second round he neither had the best conditions, nor one of the best jumps, but the sixth place is still a great result for the athlete from Oberstdorf.
Deschwanden again strong in Nizhny Tagil
Swiss Gregor Deschwanden was all smiles after the competition. The top talent had two good jumps and finally, the teammate of Simon Ammann could celebrate a Top 10 result again. With the seventh place today he equaled his career-best result so far. He was already seventh two years ago, also in Nizhny Tagil. Simon Ammann finished 16th.
Poles not among the very best
Best Pole today was Piotr Zyla in tenth, Dawid Kubacki followed in eleventh. Not a bad result, but head coach Stefan Horngacher will probably not be completely satisfied. The expectations are obviously high after last winter when Poland won the Nations Cup and the outstanding summer of the team. The team around double Olympic champion Kamil Stoch, who was 15th today, has to show more in order to fight for the win.
Anze Semenic, youngster Timi Zajc and veteran Peter Prevc in 9th, 12th and 13th showed a positive trend for the Slovenian team. Especially Peter Prevc is slowly but surely on his way back to the top.
US American William Rhoads finished on a career-best 21st place. The 22-year-old is getting better and better and the 21st place in Nizhny Tagil might not sound that spectacular, but it's definitely a really great performance.
After his win, Richard Freitag now leads the overall World Cup with 190 points, followed by Daniel Andre Tande (175 points) and Johann Forfang (153 points).
The second competition in Nizhny Tagil takes place on Sunday at 4 pm CET (8 pm LOC), the qualification starts at 2:30 pm CET (6:30 pm LOC)