Stefan Kraft grabs the Ski Jumping World Cup mini crystal ball at the Ski Jumping World Cup Finals in Planica on Sunday. The 29-year-old from Salzburg, who on Saturday celebrated his 30th World Cup victory, finished third on the final day of the longest season in World Cup history behind Slovenes Timi Zaek and Anze Lanicek with distances of 238.5 and 235 metres.
“Mega, a little ball again, and third in snowboarding is incredible,” Kraft said after his 17th podium finish. Saturday he celebrated his sixth win of the season as well as six second and six third places. “Halvor is a brutal fighter, it was a battle of nerves,” admitted Kraft, who eventually clinched the small crystal with a 30-point lead over World Cup winner Halvor Egner Granrod. “I was in great shape again and managed to make it happen,” he said in an interview with ORF.
Kraft had nothing to grieve over the fact that after Saturday’s individual and team wins, there was also no Planica hat-trick. “We know the Slovenes are very good there. I was a little behind in the first round, in the second the hole might have been the right thing, but I wanted to attack 240 metres.”
On his second attempt, Timmy Zayk went three holes and snatched victory from compatriot Lanishek by only one-tenth of a point. Kraft was ten points short of winning the day.
After the celebration, Kraft now heads off to another long voyage, but this time on a passive note. “There is a little trip around the world this year.” Kraft keeps his promise to his wife. He had promised, “If I win a gold medal in the Olympics, we’ll fly around the world.” Kraft now wants to travel around the world for six weeks and clear his mind. “I really needed it because it’s been so intense this year.” Kraft also takes enough money with him, in pure prize money terms, that he has taken around €310,000 with him as the second best prize of the year.
Head coach Andreas Widholzel was not only happy with a great weekend for his men, but also with a successful season with the renewed victory in the World Cup as a whole. “It was a great finish and confirmation for the whole team,” said the former jumper, whose team advanced by no less than 1,462 points over the chasing Norway with 7,093 points.
For Kraft, it is the third flying crystal ball to skate after 2017 and 2020. In addition, as in 2019, he finished second in the overall World Cup, and in addition to two victories in 2017 and 2020, he finished third in 2015. He has previously Austria won the Nations Cup for the twentieth time.
Sunday’s Austrian second best, Jan Hürl, was also pleased. With 240m in the second round, he achieved the best he was aiming for. “That was the goal. It’s great that it worked.” He finished fifth for the seventh time this season. “It’s an ordinary place for me, bitter of course, but another point of view is that you have to finish fifth first.” Also for young Daniel Chovenig, who has come on the podium three times this season alone, there was a best performance of 236.5 metres.
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