Ein prostration in homage. Stefan Horngacher, impressed and moved by the emotions and feelings, insisted on going into the snow in front of his team at the end of a breathtaking ski jump. What a day in the valley of the hills, what a haul for the German Ski Association (DSV) team.
After four days of competition, the 34-strong team of athletes is already in better shape overall than at the home World Championships two years ago in Oberstdorf. Planica 2023 – the Nordic World Ski Championships have gone extremely well for Team D so far. This is also and above all due to the ski jumping men and women.
National coach Horngacher simply found it “unbelievable how mentally strong the boys were. We had aimed for a medal, which would be realistic if we slip through like this. But that there have now been two – just unbelievable”. Andreas Wellinger second on the normal hill, Karl Geiger third: At the beginning of the year, when the German Eagles were not even in the top ten at the Four Hills Tournament, pessimists had already outlined a bleak World Cup scenario.
“We really got caught up,” Horngacher said self-critically in Planica. He knew “that we have to keep the store together”. In fact, the Austrian head coach stayed the course, kept calm – and suddenly the trust was there again. The move to start as the only leading ski jumping nation at the World Cup dress rehearsal in the Romanian town of Rasnov proved to be a door opener. Wellinger also won there, as before at the far-off work trip in Lake Placid – and he now confirmed his excellent form at the season highlight in Planica.
Althaus in the rush of victory
It was a curious, rousing, highly exciting competition that resembled a lottery. Defending champion Piotr Zyla managed the feat of jumping from 13th place to the top in the final round. To do this, the Pole had to break the hill record set by Stefan Kraft in the first round with 102.5 meters.
The Austrian actually fell back to fourth place, Zyla only landed at 105 meters in this windy competition, and the Germans moved up to the other two medal positions in this “millimeter jump”, which Horngacher later spoke of because of the density of the competition. “It’s just cool to be the head coach of such a team,” enthused the Tyrolean, who always acted in a controlled manner.
For the unexpected double success of his two predecessors, Horngacher saw the crucial start-up help in the women. Katharina Althaus and Co. are experiencing golden times in Slovenia, which has been sporting a splendid white winter coat since Sunday. In the singles, the 26-year-old from Oberstdorf won the title she had been longing for for years before the weekend when all hell broke loose in terms of sport.
And even in the team that crossed the Bakken a few hours ahead of the men, victory was exclusively over Team D. “Katha’s success helped us tremendously,” said Horngacher later in his analysis. “The girls’ success pushed us and carried us away.”