Noriaki Kasai
With his first win in the World Cup since more than ten years Japanese Noriaki Kasai is now the oldest winner in World Cup history. At age 41 (41 years, seven months and four days to be exact) the ski flying World Champion of 1992 won with jumps on 196 m and 197 m and a total of 391.6 points ahead of the 20 years younger Slovene Peter Prevc and record World Cup winner Gregor Schlierenzauer.

Right after Kasai’s final jump, Schlierenzauer, Prevc, Kamil Stoch and Wolfgang Loitzl congratulated him in the outrun, while Japanese coach Yokokawa celebrated with his colleagues.

“I believe in my physical and mental strength. It’s a great day for me. I have no secret, of course I have a lot of experience and this is an advantage. I love ski flying, last winter I could further improve my performance in Planica”, Kasai said after his triumph.

Prevc, fourth in the 4-Hills-Tournament and already on the podium in Oberstdorf and Bischofshofen, jumped on 199 m (the longest jump of the day) and 190.5 m, Schlierenzauer, who achieved his first podium finish since about a month, landed at 194 m twice.

“I don’t know exactly why it’s going so well. I want to congratulate Noriaki. I hope that I can again show two good jumps tomorrow. There are still little things that I can improve and I have to work on that”, said Prevc. And Schlierenzauer was satisfied with his performance in front of his home crowd: “It’s something special when you return to the podium. The 4-Hills-Tournament didn’t go that well for me. Today was a step in the right direction. I’m proud that I made it on the podium today. It’s special to fly at the Kulm and I’m already looking forward to tomorrow. This is the right way towards Sochi and I try to get back to where I belong.”

Severin Freund presented himself in an improved shape and came in fourth with 190 m and 181 m (358.4 points). This was his best result since his win in Lillehammer. Ski flying World Champion Robert Kranjec achieved his best result this season in fifth, 1.2 points behind Freund. World Champion Kamil Stoch was sixth with 354.2 points and defended the yellow bib of the World Cup leader. Jurij Tepes completed the outstanding team performance of Slovenia in seventh. Four points behind Andreas Wellinger, Canadian Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes came in on a career best ninth place with 348.2 points. Michael Hayboeck completed the Top 10 with 347.2 points.

Four time Olympic champion Simon Ammann moved up from 24th to 11th in the final and missed the Top 10 by only 1.6 points, Manuel Poppinger achieved his best World Cup result so far in 12th. Wolfgang Loitzl and the best Czech, Jan Matura, shared the 12th place. A week after his nomination for the Olympic team, young German Marinus Kraus was 16th, Austria’s ski flying specialist was 18th after he was not on the team for the 4-Hills-Tournament. The only Finn in the final round, Jarkko Maeaettae, was 27th. German record holder Michael Neumayer followed in 28th.

Text and photo EUROSPORT