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Sapporo specialist Kraft celebrated his 27th World Cup victory

Stefan Kraft of Salzburg won the second men’s ski jumping event of the Men’s World Cup in Sapporo on Saturday. The 29-year-old took the lead in the first half with a jump of 139.0 meters and successfully defended it, 5.6 points ahead of Norway’s Halvor Egner Granerud. It is Kraft’s 27th individual World Cup victory, and second of the season after that in Rocca at the end of November. With Daniel Chovenig (5th) and Manuel Wittner (6th), two more ÖSV players reached the top ten.

Their compatriots Clemens Aigner, Michael Hyebock and Clemens Leitner finished 14th, 16th and 21st. Jan Hürl was 39th and did not reach the second round. It was Kraft’s fourth win in Sapporo, after winning twice in 2019 and once in 2020. The 1972 Japanese Olympic city figure skating world record holder has climbed to the podium eight times. In Friday’s competition, he was the only Austrian world champion in the top 10 at No. 5, Ryoyu Kobayashi celebrating his home win. Another competition is scheduled for Sunday (2:00am CET).

“I am very, very happy,” said the Sapporo specialist Kraft. “You always have a little bit of luck if you want to be on the podium or on top. I definitely had that. But thank God I was able to capitalize on it with the right jumps, I was really on top of the board.” A simple change in starting position had the desired effect, and Kraft wants to build on that on Sunday. Vetter was happier with himself again and predicted a tough finish in Sapporo: “Sunday’s competition is usually where the wind is strongest.”

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As is often the case on the HS137 beacon, the competition was affected by the wind, at least more than the day before. Norwegian Daniel Andre Tandy did not even qualify, and the notable victims in the first round were Slovenian Anze Lanisek (103.5m) and Hurl (111.5). Kraft pulled in an excellent effort and had a seemingly comfortable 10.3-point lead over Granroad ahead of the winner. But the positions were unrelated to each other, in the second round the rating was literally confused.

Wittner managed to jump from 19th place into the top six, but yesterday’s winner Kobayashi’s 137.5m attempt was the main topic of conversation. Nobody overtook it, but 135.5 meters was enough for a sure victory. With a jump of 132.0 metres, Granrod also put himself 1.8 points ahead of the local champion. Fourth-placed Pole Dawid Kubacki remains the overall World Cup leader, 104 points behind Granrud. Lanisek is just 114 points ahead of fourth-placed Kraft. Fettner, Hayböck Tschofenig and Hörl are also in the top ten.