STA, 12 December 2020 - Germany's Karl Geiger won the individual event of the Ski Flying World Championship at Slovenia's Planica with a total of 877.2 points after a nail-biting finish in which the second-placed Halvor Egner Granerud of Norway fell behind by only half of a point after four rounds of jumping.
Geiger led from start to finish as the individual event started with two rounds on Friday and wrapped up on Saturday with another two rounds.
The German had an advantage of 7.7 points heading into the last round but Granerud saved his best jump for the last round, soaring to the 243-metre mark for the second-longest jump so far at the championships.
Geiger responded with a 231.5-metre effort to stay in the first place by a whisker, winning 877.2 points against the Norwegian's 876.7 points. The ski flying title thus returns to Germany after Severin Freund won it in 2004.
"There was a lot of pressure. It felt good already after the first jump, but I was aware that I had to stay focused until the last jump. This is unbelievable. I really felt good right from the get-go," Geiger told reporters.
Finishing third to win the bronze medal was Markus Eisenbichler of Germany, who shook off Michael Hayböck of Austria with a 230-metre jump to earn 859.3 points and leave the Austrian more than 14 points behind.
The best Slovenian in the first three rounds, Anže Lanišek, further improved in the last round to finish 12th with 777.2 points, after managing his best jump of all four rounds of 228 metres.
Bor Pavlovčič finished in the 20th place with 715.5 points, and Domen Prevc was right behind him with 712.7 points.
There were four Slovenian competitors in the first two rounds on Friday, but Timi Zajc has been kicked out of the national team following an exchange with head coach Gorazd Bertoncelj, who has also left the team.
Slovenia will appear in Sunday's team event though, as Zajc will be replaced by Peter Prevc, who is returning to the Planica "bubble" after failing to make the team for the individual event.
Robert Hrgota, the former ski jumper and Bertoncelj's deputy, who had to jump in as the new leader after the discord in the Slovenian team, said after the individual event that Slovenians were going for a podium finish in the team event.
"Anže showed yesterday and today that he is close to the top. He is the bright star at the moment and we are happy that we have a strong trump card who will also fight tomorrow to help Slovenia rank high," he added.
In the statement for the national broadcaster TV Slovenija, the interim head coach added that the "battle for the podium will take place until the last jump. There are eight jumps in the team event and many things can happen."
* Final standings of the individual event at Planica: 1 Karl Geiger (GER) 877.2 pts (241/223.5/240.5/231.5 m) 2 Halvor Egner Granerud (NOR) 876.7 (221/229.5/239/243) 3 Markus Eisenbichler (GER) 859.3 (220/247/234.5/230) 4 Michael Hayböck (AUT) 845.1 (245.5/217/237.5/220.5) 5 Robert Johansson (NOR) 841.0 (220/228.5/228/232) 6 Yukiya Sato (JAP) 835.1 (222/229/228/229) 7 Piotr Žyla (POL) 828.6 (221.5/224.5/227/224.5) 8 Kamil Stoch (POL) 808.5 (213/229/223/222.5) 9 Evgeni Klimov (RUS) 802.2 (237/208/222.5/220) 10 Andrzej Stekala (POL) 792.4 (224.5/215.5/224.5/212) ... 12 Anže Lanišek (SLO) 777.2 (196/218,5/215.5/228) 20 Bor Pavlovčič (SLO) 715.5 (207/198/207/203.5) 21 Domen Prevc (SLO) 712.7 (206/206.5/206.7/207.5) ...