Andreas Wellinger did not worry about his sleep before the epiphany. “I slept like a baby last night. It should work tonight too,” he said at the foot of the Paul-Außerleitner-Schanze in Bischofshofen. Eurosport.
Wellinger had to correct a few mistakes in his jump to not also capture the Kobayashi Golden Eagle and the 100,000 francs (107,500 euros) tournament winner's prize at Epiphany. “For tomorrow it's: bring more lightness, more flow – and then hit the edge better,” said the 2018 Normal Hill Olympic champion.
Wellinger had particular problems with his time on the take-off table. Maybe he should “stop at IKEA and get a long table,” joked the Oberstdorf winner on “ARD.” But that alone certainly won't do.
The Real Battles of Bischofshofen.
1.) Wellinger against the take-off table
Again it wasn't speed: Wellinger drove 1.1 km/h faster than Kobayashi in qualifying, so he actually had the right pace. However, something went wrong for Germany on the jump.
“The idea was good, but I completely missed the take-off table,” he said in his best ski jumping jargon. And that's what he said: After a confusing first practice jump (128m) and a good second (138m), Wellinger focused on a slightly forward approach from the “shoulder line” in qualifying. But the jump “missed by five meters”.
That's exactly what happens on the long, flat approach to the slope-built Paul Aszerleitner ski jump. “The take-off table is tricky,” said Carl Geiger. “You wait, wait, wait, and all of a sudden he's there — it's not that easy,” Stephen Croft said.
“It was a work day,” Wellinger immediately checked his eligibility tab: “It was a little wooden, but that doesn't mean anything.”
But Wellinger still has some homework to do before Saturday. “I have the impression that it's about more than just time,” observes Martin Schmidt. Eurosport: “It's not even ten meters. I also think his access level is a bit high.” Switching to flight mode also doesn't work smoothly.
The following now applies to the DSV team: “Work well, analyze well and start the day with clear instructions. Things are completely different in a test run,” said Schmidt. Wellinger will shine after the tournament, becoming the first German winner since Sven Hannawald in 2002. One thing is clear, however: “Andy will need a great game to match the Japanese,” he said. Eurosport-Expert Werner Schuster.
2.) Kobayashi against the weather
Ryoyu Kobayashi's showing in Bischofshofen on Friday was already worthy of a Tour winner: 140 meters in the first test round, easily avoiding the second jump, then 138 meters in qualifying – with two playfully easy round wins, the Japanese proved more than ready. Wellinger for the fight. “Don't get your hopes up, boy — that's the message he sent,” Shuster said as a co-commentator. Eurosport– The exchange is inspired.
Wellinger had a similar opinion: “He's one of the best ski jumpers ever, you have to agree without envy. He's the clear favourite, and he proved it today.” The Japanese will have even more capricious weather – rain is forecast in Bischofshofen for Epiphany, rain that easily turns to snow in the afternoon. The ski jumper likes to talk about difficult situations.
Between Vellinger and Kobayashi, the other 15 jumpers had to exit the beam in the first round on Saturday. “It's going to be a very exciting day,” enthused national coach Stephen Horngacher. If Kobayashi is a bit slow on a wet and snow-covered track, Wellinger could be on pole before the final lap. “He's been fast all season and that will play into his hands tomorrow with the weather forecast,” Schmidt believes.
There are only 4.8 points separating the two, 2.67 meters – a hill size of 142. Eleven times in Tour history the leader has moved up by less than five points. Last tour. He jumped and drove. The leader took the overall win six times, while another jumper won five times. Wellinger can make it 6:6.
However, if Kobayashi brings home his lead on Saturday, he will tie Kamil Stoch (Poland), Helmut Regnagel (Germany) and Björn Virkola (Norway) with three overall wins – and ski jumping legends Matti Nykanen (Finland) Andreas Goldberger and Gregor Schlierenzauer (both Austria/two wins).
Jan Ahonen's record (Finland/five Tour wins) would be two more titles away – something the 27-year-old can no longer imagine and doesn't seem to care about such mind games.
However, the Japanese again allowed only a few words to be carried on Friday. “It's special here, but I like it,” said the Bischofshofen winner of 2019 and 2022, which means he has won the Tour twice: “The jumps were good, especially the second.” Having said that, he left in a good mood.
3.) Strength against the disappointment of touring
If all goes back to normal at Epiphany, Kobayashi and Wellinger will win the tour between them. Behind them, the Germans Puis Paschke and Carl Geiger – who have already won the World Cup this season – will want to be in the fight for the podium, but they did not find their way in Garmisch-Partenkirchen and Innsbruck. Both could be somewhat satisfied with 14th and 17th places in qualifying for Bischofshofen.
The last few days have been disappointing for Stefan Kraft: after five wins in eight World Cup matches before the tour, the overall winner of 2014/15 was favored, but a weak performance in Garmisch-Partenkirchen dropped him to third place in Oberstdorf. 6th) and Innsbruck (6th). ) again in the overall rankings. “The Tour was unlucky for him,” summed up Eurosport expert Schuster: “He was always unlucky in the air and made the wrong jump at the wrong time.”
And so the Austrian three-way battle for last place in the “Stalker” broke out: Innsbruck winner Jan Harl (3rd) and Kraft (4th) are currently separated by 5.7 meters in the overall standings, but even Michael Haebach (5th) is still a chance for third place, 13.9 meters behind Harl. has
In Bischofshofen, Kraft made people sit up and take notice again by finishing second in the qualifier (134m). However, it seems almost impossible for one of the ÖSV stars to top the podium after qualifying and Kobayashi's strong performance. Hörl went up in front of his home crowd and finished eighth with 129 metres, while Hayböck finished 16th over the same distance.
So Kraft must pull the Austrian coal out of the fire on Epiphany. Bongwar wants to win tomorrow and strengthen his lead in the overall World Cup. But the 30-year-old also knows: “Ryoyu is in fantastic shape, very strong. He's the one you have to beat.”