Veterans launch Norwegian ski jumpers

Johansson steps up when Granerud tests positive for COVID-19; Lundy clears another hill in women’s ski jumping

ski jumping

Photo: Lise Åserud / NTB scanpix
Robert Johansson’s first jump amid snow drifts and wind, in the HS137 large hill competition at the world championships in Oberstdorf, Germany, went 129.5 meters and earned Johansson 132.1 points.

MICHAEL KLEINER
Business & Sports Editor
The Norwegian American

For the newcomer on the men’s ski jumping circuit, his first World Championships ended almost as soon as it started. The scary word of the last year, coronavirus, stamped Halvor Egner Granerud after he competed in the men’s HS106 on Feb. 27 and mixed team HS106 on Feb. 28. Would someone step up in Oberstdorf, Germany, for the 24-year-old from Trondheim?

For the women, a veteran champion who struggled this season found her way back to the top podium spot, while clearing another “hill” in women’s ski jumping.

There was some consolation for Granerud as he quarantined in his hotel room. With only three individual events remaining because the four Raw Air competitions in Norway were canceled, Granerud clinched the World Cup title—the first Norwegian since Anders Bardal in 2012—with 1,544 points, followed by Marcus Eisenbichler of Germany (1,018), Kamil Stoch of Poland (944) with teammate Robert Johansson (774) in fourth. “Even though it has looked very likely for a long time, it was still very gratifying,” Granerud said on the Norway national ski jumping Facebook page. “When I received the message, I immediately started to cry. It has been some hard days now, but to finally get it confirmed was incredibly good. This was an impossible goal I set myself after last season, so to manage it feels unreal.”

Maren Lundby, three-time defending World Cup champion, chose the perfect event for her gold, the HS137 large hill on March 3, the first time women competed on the large hill. On her first jump, she landed 128 meters and earned 139.8 points. She needed to beat 129 meters on her second leap. Her liftoff was superb, as was her form in the air. She was going 93.2 km an hour and nailed a landing over the green line. Judges agreed. Her distance was 130.5m, her points 156.8 for a total of 298.6 points, 8.7 better than Sara Takanashi (Japan), second in World Cup standings (606), 9.5 over Nika Kriznar of Slovenia, the World Cup leader (611). Lundby is seventh in the standings (338).

Maren Lundby

Photo: Terje Pedersen / NTB scanpix
Maren Lundby was ecstactic to win a gold medal at the world championships in Oberstdorf, Germany.

“I’m happy to take my first win of this season in the world championships,” the 26-year-old from Lillehammer said on fis-ski.com. “It’s a victory for all the women who are allowed to compete now on the big hill. It’s just a great day.” 

After arriving home, she was still trying to believe. “The shoulders are relatively much lower now than a week ago, so to speak,” Lundby told NTB. “A great relief to get what I got. It is still completely unreal, but so cool that I actually managed to win the big hill race that we fought so hard for last year. In addition, considering the season I have had, to take the first victory in this race … it’s just completely magical.”

Silje Opseth, who has had a great season and is fourth in the standings (477), finished fifth on the large hill. In the women’s HS106 on Feb. 25, Lundby earned silver (102.5m, 138.1 pts, 99.5m, 138.4 pts, 276.5 pts) 3.3 behind Ema Klinec (Slovenia) and 0.2 better than Takanashi. Opseth was sixth, Thea Minyan Bjørseth seventh.

In the women’s team HS106 on Feb. 26, Norway took the bronze with 942.1 points, behind Austria and Slovenia. Opseth and Lundby bookended Anna Odine Strøm and Bjørseth. Opseth’s line was 98.0m-119.4 pts-99.0m-126.1 pts, while Lundby scored 95.5m-121.8 pts-97.5 m, but 131.1 pts, the highest points of the quartet. On Bjørseth’s second attempt, she flew 98.5m, earning 125.3 pts.

On Feb. 28, the mixed team HS106, Opseth and Lundby competed for the women, Johansson and Granerud for the men. Norway’s podium position would come down to Granerud’s second jump. Granerud didn’t give any indication he was sick. He jumped 102 meters and his 137.3 points on the jump was the highest point total of the second round of the 12 jumpers on the top three teams. It gave Norway the silver between Germany and Austria.

The day before, in the men’s HS106, Granerud was fourth, 9.1 points behind gold medalist Piotr Zyla of Poland and 1.8 behind bronze medalist Dawid Kubacki of Poland. 

As with the women, a veteran stepped up, Lillehammer resident Johansson, who will be 31 on March 23. After the first round in the men’s HS137 on March 5—held amid snow drifts and wind—Johansson’s 129.5-meter jump and 132.1 points had him second. The man with the handlebar mustache nailed it for 135.5 meters, landing over the green line, and earned 140 points. Stefan Kraft’s 134-meter jump in the second round gave the Austrian the gold, 4.4 points better than Johansson, who took the silver. Germany’s Karl Geiger earned the bronze. Marius Lindvik was sixth, Dan-Andre Tande 12th, Johann Andre Forfang tied for 13th.

The following day, minus Granerud in team HS137, Lindvik, Tande, Forfang, and Johansson, placed sixth.

“I have jumped very well this winter,” Johansson told NTB. “I think the medal here is well deserved. It’s nice to see that you fly over the green line and manage to make a decent impact. It’s been 72 hard hours. At first, we hoped things would go well with Halvor. Then we hoped the rest of us would do well. I have tried to read some signals and know if I have felt bad. I have tested myself every single day. It is demanding when you walk around and use so much energy. One struggles to relax and sleep. Although it requires a lot of energy these days. I think it’s a good thing that I am like that. It turns out that it pays to trust yourself. I trust what I have worked with throughout the winter and did not try anything new today.”

This article originally appeared in the March 26, 2021, issue of The Norwegian American. To subscribe, visit SUBSCRIBE or call us at (206) 784-4617.

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