Victory for Norway’s ski flyers

The Norwegian team takes the gold at the Ski Flying World Championships, setting the largest victory margin in history

Photo: Anders Engeland / NRK The young Norwegian team surprised everyone—including themselves—by winning the FIS World Championship team competition in Austria.

Photo: Anders Engeland / NRK
The young Norwegian team surprised everyone—including themselves—by winning the FIS World Championship team competition in Austria.

Molly Jones
Norwegian American Weekly

With the unexpected success of the young Norwegian team, it looks like the sport of ski flying has quite a promising future in Norway.

What is ski flying? It’s the sport developed from the more traditional ski jumping with roots spanning back eight decades. With a bigger emphasis on aerodynamics and much larger hills, ski flying allows the athletes to jump up to two thirds farther than while ski jumping.

The FIS Ski Flying World Championships are held every two years, bringing the 40 best ski flyers together to compete on one of Europe’s few hills big enough for the sport. This year, the event was held on the Kulm hill in Bad Mitterndorf, Austria.

It started with the individual competition on Jan. 15 and 16, which normally consists of four rounds. Due to strong winds, however, the fourth round was cancelled this year.

Slovenian Peter Prevc won the gold with jumps of 243.0, 213.5, and 244.0 meters. A mere 3.3 points behind Prevc, Norway’s Kenneth Gangnes earned silver with impressive jumps of 236.0, 216.0, and 238.5 meters.

“I have no words, it is completely unreal,” said the silver-medalist to NRK.

Fellow Norwegian Johann André Forfang ended up in fourth after a brutal fall on a 240-meter jump in the final round. Fortunately, Forfang recovered well enough to participate in the team competition the following day.

In addition to Gangnes and Forfang, the Norwegian team comprised Anders Fannemel and Daniel-André Tande. With an average age of only 22 years, it is an especially young team.

In fact, Fannemel is the only one of the four who participated in the gold-winning ski jumping team at the World Championships in Falun last year; both Anders Bardal and Anders Jacobsen have since retired.

Despite their youth, the new Norwegian team proved to be strong and consistent in Austria. Out of the eight teams, Norway was the only team with all eight jumps—two by each athlete—exceeding 200 meters.

Gangnes’s final jump of 219.5 meters, the team’s longest jump of the day, decided the competition, and Norway took the Ski Flying World Championship team gold for the first time since 2006 and the third time overall.

“The guys are the completely crazy. They make the job easy for me. I hadn’t believed it before the season,” says 26-year-old Gangnes to NRK. “It hasn’t been long since I was about to give up. Now I am very happy that I chose to continue.”

With a total of 1467.7 points, Norway beat Germany by 110.4 points for the biggest victory margin in the history of the competition. The Austrian team, which has dominated the team event in recent years, took the bronze. Despite the best jumps of the day (228 and 238 meters) by Prevc, Slovenia placed fourth.

“This is what we dreamed of. It’s almost unbelievable that everyone is doing so well now. It is so fantastic that everyone had two great jumps. It is wonderful to be a part of that kind of team,” said Anders Fannemel to Dagbladet.

After two weak jumps in the individual competition, 21-year-old Tande was widely considered to be the weakest of the team, so he was especially relieved to have performed well and contributed to his team’s success: “It means a lot. Now I would dare to say that I’m no longer the weakest link,” he told NRK.

This record-setting victory has excited the ski jumping community of Norway, as they anticipate the future successes of this young, promising team.

“It is the biggest team victory of all time, and it happened with athletes who have many years ahead of them. I think we are into the start of the best period that Norwegian ski jumping has ever seen” claimed Sports Director Clas Brede Bråthen to NRK.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 29, 2016, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.

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