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Ski jumping: “Jumping Jack” as a stand-up man: Wellinger’s way back

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Cruciate ligament rupture, crisis, Corona: Something always got in the way when ski jumper Andreas Wellinger wanted to go back to the top of the world. The current season is all the more remarkable.

Andreas Wellinger followed the past German ski jumping highlights from a very relaxed perspective. As the 2018 Olympic champion, he watched from the outlet of the notorious Bergisel or from a large sofa in Chiemgau at home as his teammates collected medals and titles – and involuntarily he no longer had any part in it.

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But in the past twelve months, his situation has changed rapidly. “Wellinger is currently in the sphere of the best people,” said national coach Stefan Horngacher. At the World Championships in Planica, which got off to an excellent start for the German team thanks to individual gold from Katharina Althaus, Wellinger is right in the middle again – instead of not there at all.

Can’t get Wellinger down

His way back to the top of the world was extremely long. With the gold medal in Pyeongchang five years ago, the 27-year-old Bavarian said goodbye to the top ranks. It followed: A cruciate ligament tear, several lows, a corona infection immediately before the next Winter Games in Beijing and a lot of negative thoughts.

“The most difficult phase was the season two years ago, when I left after the Four Hills Tournament and ski-jumped underground. Being physically and mentally there, but making so many mistakes in terms of performance is difficult to accept,” Wellinger told the German press -Agency. He struggled for months and often didn’t even make it into the top 30. The current winter, on the other hand, seems like a sporting resurrection.

The return to the big stage

Wellinger recently clinched two individual victories in the World Cup. He – and not Karl Geiger or Markus Eisenbichler – is the number one German medal candidate on Saturday (5 p.m. / ZDF and Eurosport) in the individual World Cup on the normal hill. “I have the feeling that he has taken the lead in the team. He is currently our most promising athlete,” said Horngacher, who currently sees Wellinger on the same level as dominator Halvor Egner Granerud (Norway) and Poland’s Dawid Kubacki.

His career is strange, Wellinger had already accumulated gold medals at the Olympics and World Championships at the age of 22 – and then fell into a low. A lot of time has passed since then. “I’ve definitely developed personally over the years. But I would say that in my role I’m the same jumping jack that I’ve always been,” said Wellinger, who doesn’t just look like the sunny boy of the German team because of his surfing hobby. He always tried to radiate relaxation, even in times of crisis.

The victory against the cruciate ligament tear

How he got back on track athletically is currently the subject of debate for experts and former top athletes who are analyzing his return to the elite. For Coach Horngacher, this step was foreseeable and logical. “It’s actually not surprising at all. He was in better shape at the end of last winter. In the summer he set the tone 99 percent of the time,” said the 53-year-old Tyrolean.

It is particularly noteworthy that Wellinger overcame a cruciate ligament tear and then made it back up. This is rare, because the serious knee injury is considered a real career brake in sensitive ski jumping. From the German team alone, Severin Freund, Stephan Leyhe, David Siegel and Carina Vogt have not returned to the level they had before the injury in recent years. The year’s break also left its mark on Wellinger. “It was a huge challenge to find my way back. I went from competition to competition with big question marks,” said the Olympic champion. This phase is now over.

Source: Stern

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