The dream team of the ski-jumping
For the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver, the Austrian team included the crème de la crème of ski jumping: the reigning Olympic large hill champion, Thomas Morgenstren, and the runner-up in this event in Turin, Andréas Kopfler, - two athletes who also won the ultimate team title in 2006. Also making up this team were: Wolfgang Loitzl, world champion and winner of the Four Hills Tournament in 2009; and Gregor Schlierenzauer, world champion in 2008 at the age of 18, with 32 victories, including an incredible 13 consecutive victories in the World Cup.
"Schlieri" with a double bronze
These four champions all had their sights set on the two individual competitions taking place on the hill at the Olympic Park in Whistler. It was Gregor Schlierenzauer who made the most of it, finishing third in the normal hill behind Ammann and Malysz. The results of the other three were more disappointing – they finished 8th, 9th and 19th.
Almost one week later, they had another opportunity at the large hill competition. This time, they adopted a new approach, but it was not enough. The podium was the same as for the first competition: Switzerland’s Ammann; Poland’s Malysz; and Austria’s Schlierenzauer. Andréas Kopfler remained at the foot of the podium; Thomas Morgenstern, just behind him, was fifth. Although two bronze medals were a great achievement for the young “Schlieri”, the others had one last chance to avoid leaving the Games empty-handed. The Austrian jumpers had one last obastacle to face: other teams such as Norway, Finland and Germany, who had not won medals, also hoped to win the last competition.
The eagles gliding above Whistler
The Austrian eagles were not about to miss their prey. They finished first six times in the eight jumps. Schlierenzauer, in particular, was on fire, twice jumping further than 140 metres. The four men finished the competition with a comfortable lead of 70 points (a distance of almost 130 metres) over the German team, and with 77 points more than the Norwegians. Kopfler and Morgenstern won their second gold medals and Schlierenzauer his third. The happiest one of the bunch must have been Wolfgang Loitzl, the team doyen, seven-time world champion, who had finished fourth in the team event in 2002 and had not been at the Turin Games four years previously. He had finally won an Olympic medal, and a gold one at that!