In contrast to other favorites, Andreas Wellinger is still fully involved at the Kulm. Little things should decide on Saturday. Only one Slovenian flies away from everyone and sets course for gold.
In the pouring rain, Andreas Wellinger was arguing with himself. Germany’s best ski jumper was dissatisfied with his performance at the Ski Flying World Championships, but is still right in the middle of the possible centimeter game for gold, silver and bronze.
“There’s not much missing. It’s really close. The final balance is just missing. If I can manage that, anything is possible,” said Wellinger, who is in fourth place at the halfway point of the individual competition in Bad Mitterndorf, in the run-out of the huge jump at the Kulm.
Immediately after the end of the competition, the heavy rain began in front of 7,800 spectators. The organizers played “It’s raining Men” to match. Only the Slovenian Timi Zajc is really ahead of Wellinger, who clearly leads after attempts at 228.5 and 227 meters. Stefan Kraft from Austria and Johann Andre Forfang from Norway follow in the places.
Medal within reach
However, Forfang is only 0.5 points ahead of Wellinger, the equivalent of a good 42 centimeters. “He is still in the fight for third place. Second place is not out of reach either,” said national coach Stefan Horngacher. The 28-year-old Wellinger announced: “The trick is that we work our way in step by step.”
The decision will be made on Saturday (2 p.m./ZDF), when rounds three and four are scheduled. Apart from the in-form Wellinger, the three other German starters no longer have a chance of winning a medal. Karl Geiger (213 and 180 meters) is in 20th place at halftime and cannot build on his performance from the 2020 World Cup title. Stephan Leyhe (12th) and Pius Paschke (19th) are also clearly behind. “That wasn’t the best today,” said Paschke.
Wellinger still sees potential for improvement
Wellinger, on the other hand, did not let up after finishing second overall in the Four Hills Tournament and also demonstrated consistency at the highest level in the Poland Tour. “It is the first time in his life that he is going to the Ski Flying World Championships in very good shape,” said Horngacher before the long flying weekend at the well-known facility in Styria.
He underlined his medal ambitions with his jumps on Friday. And that despite the fact that he said he still had technical difficulties during the flight. “There’s a bit of a wave built in. I know it’s because of my name, but I have to do it better,” said Wellinger with a grin.
Fall and disqualifications
After it was not possible to fly at all on Thursday due to weather conditions, the young American Erik Belshaw caused a shocking moment on Friday. The 19-year-old couldn’t stay on his skis after landing, fell into the snow at more than 120 kilometers per hour and rolled down the slope. Belshaw was then able to get up again and leave the run independently.
The Norwegian Halvor Egner Granerud was not allowed off the jump at all. The overall World Cup and Four Hills Tournament winner for the 2022/2023 season was disqualified before his first jump due to a mistake in his suit. Granerud’s compatriot Marius Lindvik (201.5 and 206 meters), the defending champion, and the Japanese tour winner Ryoyu Kobayashi are already well behind.
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