Richard Freitag won the qualification for the first of two World Cup competitions on the HS 134 in Wisla (POL) on Friday evening. A jump of 133 m and a score of 129.3 points earned Richard Freitag the win ahead of Norway's Andreas Stjernen (133 m; 125.8 points) and Slovenia's Jernej Damjan (132.5 m; 125.4 points).
Besides the three top jumpers, local hero Dawid Kubacki (4th) and Andreas Wellinger (5th), who is doing extremely well on the hill in Wisla, showed strong performances. Kubacki had the longest jump in the qualification with 133.5 m, Wellinger landed at 132 m.
The mini crisis seems to be over for Norway's Johann Andre Forfang. After strong results in the COC in Neustadt last weekend, Forfang was able to confirm his positive trend with a very good jump on 128 m.
But the top favorites for Saturday's competition are the usual suspects: World Cup leader Domen Prevc of Slovenia, Kamil Stoch and Maciej Kot of Poland, Daniel Andre Tande of Norway and Austria's Andreas Kofler had some great jumps, but all of them were pre-qualified for the competition.
Kaarel Nurmsalu of Estonia, who came back from retirement, landed already after 115.5 m and failed to qualifiy for the competition. He will now have to wait at least until Sunday before he'll get the chance to participate in his first competition after a three year long break.
For many the first day of competition after the 65th 4-Hills-Tournament was mainly about the comeback of Austria's Gregor Schlierenzauer. The Tyrolean easily qualified for Saturday's competition, his first in over a year. With 53 wins in the World Cup, Schlierenzauer is the most successful ski jumper in history, this doesn't matter in a qualification.
But Schlierenzauer presented himself in a good shape and already showed a solid performance in training with jumps of 120 m and 128 m. In the qualification Schlierenzauer jumped on 122.5 m and finished 19th, easily qualified, mission accomplished.
"It's good to know that I had no problems to qualify. Honestly I didn't really worry about whether I can make it or not. I just wanted to show what I did in training and, partly, this worked well. I'm not the youngest athlete anymore, I've been around for a while. But still this is a fresh start for me and so it's something very special. Now I qualified, this is the first great step. Now I'll take a look at the result list, also regarding the speed. I didn't have this kind of comparison for a while. Before the jump in the qualification I was calm, I had more exciting jumps before. Now I just feel gratitude and anticipation. It's really nice to feel the adrenalin again, I missed that", Schlierenzauer said after his successful comeback.
Also the Finnish team showed an upward trend today: Three Finns will be competing on Saturday. Jarkko Maeaettae (17th), Ville Larinto (25th) and Antti Aalto (36th) qualified for the competition. A ray of hope.
The first day in Wisla went smoothly, despite a strom warning. There were only some short breaks. No strong winds are forecasted for Saturday and Sunday. The competition on Saturday will start at 4:00 pm CET.