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Stefan Kraft: “My focus now is on the World Cup”

Stefan Kraft: “My focus now is on the World Cup”

What does an Austrian skier do when he no longer has a chance of achieving overall victory in the Four Hills final in Bischofshofen? True, then he wins the Epiphany Contest and thus beats the overall standings score, at least from a red-white-red perspective. Stefan Kraft achieved this remarkable feat in Pongau, just a few kilometers from his hometown of Schwarzach. Not only did Salzburger take third place in the No. 72 Four Hills Scene behind Japan's Ryoyu Kobayashi and Germany's Andreas Willinger, but he also extended his overall World Cup lead over the competition with his sixth win of the season.

“It's unbelievable that I was able to do this at home in front of this many fans,” Kraft exclaimed at the Paul-Oserleitner-Bakken Tour. “I'm happy. This is what you train for. It's pure adrenaline, happy feelings until you can't do it anymore. Winning at home makes up for everything. I've been waiting for this to happen for a long time.” The fact that he missed out on the second overall Tour win he was aiming for after 2014/15 hardly bothered the little 1.70m 'jumping flea': 'I'm not quite concerned. I've got the flow, I've lost a bit of luck in Garmisch and Innsbruck. But the jumps It was very good, and I have to be happy with third place.

Comment on the final round

It's not often that Kraft was able to savor the exhilarating feeling of a win on home soil – although this was his 36th daily success overall, it was only his second on the red, white and red grounds after Bad Mitterndorf 2020. With his 36 victories, The three all-time individual world champions are in the list of the best of all time, headed by Gregor Schlerenzauer (53 World Cup victories) alongside Finnish legend Jan Ahonen, who is already in fifth place.

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“A great round with a great result for the team.”

But it wasn't just Kraft, his teammates were also able to take inspiration from the tour. Innsbruck winner Jan Hörl finished the scene in fourth place, Innsbruck's Michael Haibueck in third place, coming in sixth place overall, and Clemens Aigner surprised in eighth place. Veteran Manuel Wittner also showed two fourth places in Garmisch and Bischofshofen. So it's no wonder coach Andreas Vidholzl is happy with “a great run with a great result for the team.” In the Nations Cup, Austria is once again clearly ahead of Germany, and confidence in the red, white and red team is also high in preparation for the World Ski Flying Championships in Kulm from 25 January.

There is also strength to be relied upon as the world record holder (253.5 metres). “Snowboarding is a completely different thing. But the World Cup comes at the right time for me.” Before that, the World Cup continues. After a break for a few days, the long-distance hunters make their first show of the Poland Tour with Wisła (January 13/14), Šticerk (January 16/17) and Zakopane (January 20/21). “It will be very tiring. But my focus is already on the World Cup, so I won't go too far in Poland,” says Kraft.

Four x 2 = 1

For Kobayashi, who has finished second four times and thus shown the most consistency in the air, this was the third win on the Tour after the 2018/19 (Grand Slam) and 2021/22 seasons. For the first time since Ahonen in 1998/99, he achieved the feat of winning the Tour without winning the day. In the list of the best tours of all time, Kobayashi comes behind Ahonen (5 x 1st/3 x 2nd/2 x 3rd), Jens Weissflug (4/4/1) and Björn Wirkola (3/2/1), along with Kamil Stoch and Helmut Recknagel ( 3/0/0 each) in fourth place. Kobayashi succinctly: “I'm happy.”

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