Ski Jumping: Stoch does the double, as Vogt leaps into history
Sochi 2014 saw women compete in the ski jumping for the first time in history, and they laid on a spectacular debut at RusSki Gorki, spearheaded by Germany’s Carina Vogt. In the men’s events, Polish ace Kamil Stoch underlined his status as current king of the hill, winning double gold. And Japan’s Noriaki Kasai won a pair of medals too – 20 years after his first!
9 February 2014: Pole vault ends Ammann’s golden run
Kamil Stoch won Poland's first Olympic ski jumping title for 42 years, overcoming illness to take gold on the RusSki Gorski normal hill.
The 26 year-old arrived in Sochi as red-hot favourite, having already captured the large hill world title and leading the way in the World Cup series.
He claimed victory with jumps of 105.5m and 103.5m, for a total of 278 points, and a 12.7-point advantage over second-placed Peter Prevc (SLV). Anders Bardal (NOR) won bronze with 264.1 pts.
“In the morning I had serious health problems, and I thought I was not going to jump,” revealed Stoch, who became the first Pole to win gold in the discipline since Wojciech Fortuna took the title on the normal hill at Sapporo in 1972.
“I didn't expect to gain such a big advantage ahead of the second place but I just did what I'm capable of doing,” he added.
“Both of my jumps were fantastic and I'm really happy that they gave me the gold.”
Meanwhile, Prevc, second to Stoch in the World Cup rankings, took silver with 265.3 points, and was delighted to be joining the Pole on the podium.
“It's great to win the Olympic medal,” said the Slovenian. “Nobody could stop Kamil as he was the best. He jumped without any mistakes and won deservedly. He produced an amazing performance.”
Switzerland's Simon Ammann, 32, who came to Sochi as the reigning champion on both normal and large hills, titles that he also won in 2002, failed to earn a record fifth Olympic gold, finishing in 17th.
World Cup holder Gregor Schlierenzauer (AUT) saw his challenge effectively ended by a first round jump of 96m that left him in equal 18th at the halfway stage, and he could only finish 11th overall. Meanwhile, his compatriot, Thomas Morgenstern, himself a triple Olympic gold medallist, finished a further three places back.
11 February 2014: Vogt takes a large leap for womankind
Vogt, who led after the first run, posted a total of 247.4 points with jumps of 103m and 97.5m. 2011 world champion Daniela Iraschko-Stolz (AUT) claimed silver with 246.2 points, ahead of third-placed Coline Mattel (FRA) on 245.2 points.
For Vogt, who had made eight World Cup podiums going into Sochi, but was still chasing her first win of the season, victory came as a genuine surprise.
“I cannot find the right words,” she said, sinking to her knees in tears after seeing the results. “I wouldn't have thought it was possible three hours ago.
“It's amazing: I'm the first women’s Olympic champion in ski jumping. It's unbelievable.”
Perhaps the biggest surprise of the competition was the absence of Japanese teen sensation Takanashi from the medal positions.
The 17-year-old World Cup holder and reigning Youth Olympic champion was firm favourite to win gold at RusSki Gorski, having won 10 out of 13 World Cup races earlier in the season.
However, she could only manage third place after the first round, and her second jump of 98.5m was not enough to make up the gap, leaving her fourth overall.
“I couldn't jump the way I wanted to,” said the three-time junior world champion. “I came here wanting to do my best. I'm incredibly disappointed.”
She still managed to take the positives from her trip to Sochi: “It's a good experience being at the Olympic Games and I'm glad to be part of it,” she added.
The floodlit event had been widely expected to be a battle between Takanashi and Iraschko-Stolz, her senior by 13 years.
The Austrian stood in fifth after the first jump but put in a risky performance in the final round, to record a whopping 104.5m.
“I was a little bit shocked because I jumped so far and my landing was not very good. I think I lost the gold in my first jump and now I have silver,” said the Austrian.
Mattel, 18, who had enjoyed previous success in Sochi, winning a World Cup event on RusSki Gorski back in 2012, was also thrilled to finish on the podium.
“It's just amazing. It might be the best day of my life so far. I was very stressed,” said the French athlete. “Yet somehow I'm glad it's over. It's been the longest day of my life and I did it.”
15 February 2014: Double top for Stoch
Having won gold on the normal hill, Kamil Stoch immediately turned his thoughts to a golden double.
“I really want to repeat it on the large hill. But once again I'm not going to do anything unusual. I will just do my work and enjoy my ski jumping. Hopefully, it will be enough for one more win.”
And it was.
The Pole topped the large hill leaderboard after two jumps, ahead of Japan's Noriaki Kasai, who at 41 had been bidding to become the oldest ever Winter Games champion.
Slovenia's Peter Prevc took bronze thanks to a huge second round jump of over 140m
Stoch led by almost three points after a first jump of 139m, but then a huge second jump from Kasai suddenly put the Pole under pressure.
Kasai matched that distance, but had wind advantage, and was marked down for style, so found himself 2.8 points behind going into the second jump.
Germany's Severin Freund was only 0.4 behind Kasai and also seemed in with a chance, while at that stage Prevc was almost six points off a medal.
The Slovenian then sailed the furthest in the second jump to leapfrog Freund. But the real drama was still to come.
Kasai then landed another huge jump and looked to have maybe done enough to snatch the gold, only for Stoch to respond to get himself over the line.
Stoch was left delighted but a little bemused as he contemplated his double gold success. “I made such a big mistake in the second round. I don't know how I jumped so far,” he admitted.
“I was too aggressive. That's why I flew so far, but hey… That's why I won!”
Kasai, who won silver in the team event in Lillehammer a full 20 years earlier – thus equalling the record for the longest time between two Olympic medals – said the result made up for missing out earlier in the week.
“I took the medal that I didn't take in the normal hill. Then I felt regret and now I feel happy,” said the 41-year old.
17 February 2014: Germans soar to team gold
Germany won gold in a thrilling team competition on the large hill at RusSki Gorki, denying Austria a third straight title in the event.
The German quartet, made up of Severin Freund, Andreas Wellinger, Marinus Kraus and Andreas Wank, collected a total of 1041.1 points over the two rounds.
That placed them just 2.7 points ahead of defending champions Austria, who took silver with 1038.4 points, and a Japanese team spearheaded by Noriaki Kasai, who scored 1024.9 points.
Twelve countries took part in the first round on the 140m hill, but only eight qualified for the second, with Canada, Russia, the United States and Republic of Korea failing to make the cut.
Germany’s victory brought to an end Austria's remarkable unbeaten streak in the Olympic Games and world championships which stretched back to 2005, and ended their attempt to win three back-to-back Olympic titles.
Conversely, it means that the Germans became the first country to win three Olympic golds in the team ski jumping, adding to their victories in 1994 and 2002.
Austria’s Gregor Schlierenzauer, a veteran of the team that won gold at Vancouver 2010, conceded that silver was a good result after a tough season.
“I'm happy with the medal. It's been hard these last days. We had some problems," said last season's overall World Cup winner.
“It was a hard fight. The teams are really strong, but a medal is always great and silver is very good,” he added.
Meanwhile Kasai, who returned to the scene of his individual large hill silver two days earlier, was once again in inspired form, putting in a top jump of 134 metres to help himself, and Japan, to a third medal in the team event, following silver in 1994 and gold at Nagano 1998.