Stefan Kraft was the best in an exciting final on the normal hill at the WSC in Lahti: With a total of 270.8 points and jumps of 99.5 m and 98 m he won ahead of the two Germans Andreas Wellinger (96.5 m / 100 m; 268.7 points) and Markus Eisenbichler (95 m / 100.5 m; 263.6 points). Overall World Cup leader and hill record holder Kamil Stoch (POL) finished fourth and missed the podium by only 1.1 points.
At the last World Championships two years ago in Falun (SWE), Stefan Kraft came in third behind Rune Velta (NOR), who has already ended his career, and Severin Freund (GER), who is currently sidelined with a knee injury. Now the second in the overall World Cup celebrated the win on the normal hill in Lahti and took the first medal for Austria at these Championships - and it was the golden one. "This is great, it was a dream come true", said the 23-year-old from Salzburg. With this triumph he followed in the footsteps of Thomas Morgenstern, who was the last Austrian normal hill World Champion in 2011, and of his coach Heinz Kuttin, who took gold on the normal hill in Val di Fiemme 1991. "These were different times", the coach said and praised his athlete: "I'm happy that he took this big win. It was a fantastic final, also because of the two Germans and their 100 m jumps."
Markus Eisenbichler, who dominated in training and skipped the qualification, was sixth after the first round and with his second jump he kicked-off the grand final. The 25-year-old Bavarian, actually known to be a good ski flyer, landed at 100.5 m and took the lead. He remained in this position until his teammate Andreas Wellinger landed his jump exactly on the hill size of 100 m. This was the challenge for Stefan Kraft, who had a lead of 4.3 points after the first round. "I saw Andi's jump on the big screen", said the Austrian, who jumped on 98 m and got five times 19.0 from the judges. With this performance he came in 2.1 points ahead of Wellinger, who was in the podium in the last seven World Cup competitions. "I was just focusing on my jumps", Wellinger said about his final jump. "I wanted to make a good second jump and I just did what I can", said Eisenbichler, who achieved is first podium result in the World Cup this season in Lillehammer. "It's just great that I was able to achieve my second podium finish here at the WSC. It's overwhelming. I never expected to win a medal."
Four Austrian coaches in the Top Ten
"This was a great competiton of my boys", said German head coach Werner Schuster, who had another athlete in the Top 10 with Richard Freitag in ninth. Stephan Leyhe was not far behind in 13th. Schuster is one of four Austrian coaches with athletes in the Top 10 today. Heinz Kuttin had the gold medalist Stefan Kraft and Michael Hayboeck in sixth, Stefan Horngacher's Polish team closely missed the medals. World Cup leader Kamil Stoch didn't have a very good first jump with 96.5 m and so the 4-Hills-Tournament winner, who jumped on 99 m in the final, was not able to take a medal. "This was definitely not my best competition, but it was a competition on a very high level under fair conditions and with a great atmosphere. It was tough to achieve a good result", said a slightly disappointed Kamil Stoch. The second best Polish athlete was Maciej Kot in fith. "The result is good, but I wanted more. My goal was to win a medal", said Kot. The fourth Austrian coach with at least one Top 10 jumper was Alex Stoeckl. His best athlete was Johann Andre Forfang in seventh.
Peter Prevc only eleventh
Despite his positive trend in the recent competitions, last season's dominator Peter Prevc, third at the WSC 2013, finished only eleventh. The Slovene, who won the first competition in Sapporo, was the best of his team. His younger brother Domen, currently fourth in the overall World Cup, missed the final round in 34th. Three big names, who already won medals in normal hill events at WSC, could not keep up with the best this time. Four-time Olympic Champion Simon Ammann, who won silver (2007) and bronze (2009) at WSC, came in 21st today. With this result he was only the second-best of the Swiss team. His teammate Kilian Peier was 18th. Record World Cup winner Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT) was 24th, but the silver medalist of 2009 and 2013 is on his way back after a knee injury. Last but not least: 39-year-old Janne Ahonen, bronze medalist 2005, was 25th and the best Finn ahead of his 13 years younger teammate Ville Larinto.