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Close competition in Sapporo

Feb 17, 2024·Ski Jumping
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Austria's Stefan Kraft won the first of two Ski Jumping World Cups in Sapporo (JPN) on Saturday. Kraft came out on top by a wafer-thin margin ahead of local hero Ryoyu Kobayashi and Andreas Wellinger from Germany.

In the end, it was the judges points that made the difference, as Kraft had a tiny 0.4-point advantage over Ryoyu Kobayashi (5 x 19.0) thanks to the judges' scores (Kraft: 5 x 19.5).
Kraft collected 263 points, Kobayashi 262.6 points. Andreas Wellinger in third place was 6.1 points behind Kraft.

"That worked really well today. It was a very, very close fight. In the first jump it was still a little bit good, then I knew that I had to attack fully to win. In the final it worked out really well. It was a great atmosphere in the stadium, I think a lot of people came to see Noriaki jump," explained Kraft, who was able to extend his lead in the overall World Cup with his victory. "I don't actually look at the overall World Cup standings, but the fact that the two guys behind me were so close again today makes me look at them from time to time," said Kraft.
It was Kraft's 39th World Cup victory in total, the 9th in the current season, Kraft leads the overall World Cup with 1336 points ahead of Ryoyu Kobayashi (1101 points), followed in third place by Andreas Wellinger with 1087 points.

"At the beginning it was upwind, then the wind shifted a bit but that's just part of it. The competition was at a high level, I'm very happy with my jumps. I made good improvements from yesterday to today, I now hope that I can build on today's performance in the second competition tomorrow morning," explained Andreas Wellinger.

Manuel Fettner, Daniel Tschofenig and Jan Hoerl completed the Austrian day in 4th, 5th and 6th place. Kristoffer Eriksen Sundal achieved the best result for the team from Norway in 7th place, Dawid Kubacki was the best Pole in 8th place.
Roman Koudelka was delighted with 15th place, while the US American Erik Belshaw impressed in 26th place.

Norikai Kasai, who had attracted many spectators to the hill by reaching the competition, reached the final of the top 30 in 28th place in the first round. However, the 51-year-old did not manage the best jump there and Kasai had to be satisfied with 30th place. An outstanding result for the Japanese athlete.
The oldie himself and the spectators were thrilled with the result and his own record as the oldest ski jumper ever to reach the final of a World Cup.

The second competition in Sapporo starts on Sunday at 03:00 CET (11:00 local time).

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