Timi Zajc reached the World Champion title in a spectacular style in front of thousands of Slovenian fans in Planica. Japan’s Ryoyu Kobayashi took silver, bronze went to Poland’s Dawid Kubacki.
A huge crowd gathered in Planica to cheer on the local heroes during the second men’s SJ individual World Championship competition. Timi Zajc won already the qualification round on Thursday and was one of the top contenders to take the awaited gold. Neither the Slovenian men, nor women could achieve podium individually so far in Planica.
Zajc had to deal with big pressure and he did it. In the first round, he showed an amazing jump on 137.5 meters. Following his fantastic jump, the jury decided to change the gate for the remaining athletes. Japan’s Ryoyu Kobayashi landed at 135 meters and combined with great marks this made him the leader.
Under challenging wind conditions, the top athletes had to do their best to catch up with Zajc and Kobayashi. Norway’s Halvor Egner Granerud took the third place with his 131 meters, while Poland’s Dawid Kubacki followed in fourth with 129 meters.
In the final round, the emotions got extreme. The defending champion Stefan Kraft landed at 136 meters to move up from the 11th place to the Top 6. Germany’s Markus Eisenbichler went on top as the next one and in a moment Kamil Stoch from Poland was a new leader.
Four athletes remained. Kubacki showed a great jump on 135 meters to increase his chances for a medal. Granerud stood a chance to achieve his first individual WSC medal but 130 meters weren’t good enough. Kubacki had a medal.
The two best athletes after the first round left. The crowd got ecstatic as Zajc landed after 137 meters. He clearly took the lead ahead of Kubacki. Kobayashi also fought for his first individual medal and he achieved it, but he came in second with his 129.5 meters, behind the Slovenian hero.
Zajc achieved the first gold medal for his country at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Planica. It’s also the first gold for Slovenia won in Slovenia.
Kamil Stoch (POL), Markus Eisenbichler (GER) and Stefan Kraft (AUT) completed the Top 6. Halvor Egner Granerud (NOR), Karl Geiger, (GER) the World Champion from the normal hill Piotr Zyla (POL) and Johann Andre Forfang (NOR) placed between the seventh and the tenth place.
The ski jumping legend Simon Ammann once again showed strong performance. He finished in 22nd. Estonia’s Artti Aigro, the USA’s Erik Belshaw and Ukraina’s Yevgen Marusiak made it to the Top 30, too. Marusiak hoped to reach the final for the second time in Planica and he did it twice.
On Saturday, the final competition at the World Championships will be held. It will be a team event.
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