The victory in the qualification for the first individual competition at the World Cup final in Planica (SLO) went to Norway's Robert Johansson, who already proved his flying skills when he held the world record for a short period of time last weekend in Vikersund.
On his 27th birthday, he showed a jump of 233 m and scored a total of 215.8 points. The second place went to Poland's Piotr Zyla with 226 m and 213.8 points. The longest jump of the qualification had Markus Eisenbichler with 236 m. The German came in third with 212.8 points, only close behind the best two, who started from one gate lower than him.
Actually Johann Andre Forfang of Norway had the longest jump of the round with 241.5 m. But he was disqualified at the equipment control right after his jump because his suit did not meet the rules. This means that Forfang, who was on the podium in every competition in Planica will not be able to compete on Friday.
Alex Insam of Italy surprised with a great jump of 230.5 m and finished on the great fourth place in this qualification. Daiki Ito of Japan was fifth with 229 m, followed by Andreas Stjernen of Norway (220.5 m) and Karl Geiger of Germany (224 m). Besides Eisenbichler and Geiger, Richard Freitag (10th with 219 m) was the third athlete of the German Ski Association in the Top 10 today. This result raises the expectations for the team competition in Planica on Saturday.
The best jumpers of the hosting team from Slovenia were Anze Semenic (227.5 m) in eight and Jernej Damjan in 11th. Czech Roman Koudelka also showed a convincing performance in ninth with 229 m.
Kevin Bickner, who gained a lot of attention recently with his new US record jump of 244.5 m in Vikersund, closely failed to make the cut for the competition. The US American would have only needed 0.8 points more the qualify for Friday's competition. Also the Slovenes Anze Lanisek and Cene Prevc, Austria's Markus Schiffner, Jan Matura of the Czech Republic and Poland's Jan Ziobro were among those, who didn't qualify.
Many of the already pre-qualified athletes decided to skip their jump in the qualification. The longest jump of this group was shown by local hero Jurij Tepes with 238 m, his teammate Peter Prevc followed with 231 m. In the official training earlier today, the Top 3 of the Ski Flying World Cup, Andreas Wellinger (240.5 m), Kamil Stoch (231.5 m) and Stefan Kraft (234.5 m), already proved their good shape with some long jumps.
The first competition of the weekend in Planica will start on Friday at 3:00 pm CET.