Actually, it shouldn’t be difficult to unbind cross-country skis, slip out and step into two freshly prepared skis next to you. And although your pulse is pounding and your hands may be shaking, Katharina Hennig often completed this procedure perfectly halfway through a long-distance race over 30 kilometers. But at the World Championships in Planica, on the hunt for a second medal, she got stuck when changing, one ski even ripped off her briefly so that she had to sort herself again.
The maneuver took many seconds, and by the time Hennig was gliding down the track again, her original plan had already collapsed. The gap was large and although she had initially “felt good” in the first half, she was now unable to catch up with the leading group. So it was a mishap, or, as Hennig himself said on ARD: “I screwed it up.”
In the end, however, Hennig was seventh and, despite a mishap, confirmed that she is a passionate cross-country skier who prefers not to miss a race. She was in action four times at the World Championships and won silver in the relay. This time, Sweden’s top cross-country skier Ebba Andersson ran away from everyone in the second half, outstanding and all alone. After a short recovery phase, she was already waving to the audience with her skis when her pursuers had just crossed the finish line and lay there for minutes, gasping for air. Norway’s Anne Kjersti Kalvaa won silver and Frida Karlsson (Sweden) took bronze.
As in the women’s cross-country skiing, the final of the Nordic Combined was also unfortunate from a German point of view, which also missed the podium in the last World Championship competition on the large hill. Her best, Julian Schmid, kept up in a sextet for a long time behind the Norwegian Jarl Magnus Riiber, who was once again the lone leader. But the efforts of the past few days with three successful competitions had taken too much strength from the man from Oberstdorf. Schmid had to let his competitors go at the decisive moment. At the finish it was a Norwegian one-two, Riiber once again benefited from a huge lead as the best jumper and Jens Luraas Oftebro had the best sprint in the quintet. He was followed towards bronze by Johannes Lamparter.
The men’s third place could reignite general interest in cross-country skiing
Overall, during the World Cup days in Planica, there was hardly anything negative to say about the German teams, which had their most successful World Cup with twelve medals. A special bronze medal was added to the total of twelve medals – third place in the cross-country men’s relay, whose anchor Friedrich Moch overtook the French quartet in the end. That could further motivate the team and spark further interest in the clubs because of its surprising effect, even if the German men no longer have any chances of winning a medal in the 50-kilometer race on Sunday (12 noon) simply because of the strength of the Norwegians.
After years of success with plenty of medals on the important hills, the ski jumpers have enough success and thus also pupils. Late on Saturday afternoon, the Germans ended their World Cup days with another highlight, but not as planned. Actually, you had an optimistic feeling, you even dreamed of gold. But then the team of trainer Stefan Horngacher came under pressure early on after too short distances and didn’t manage to free themselves with one or two exceptional jumps. Markus Eisenbichler, Constantin Schmid, Andreas Wellinger and Karl Geiger jumped after them and experienced once again how easy it is to cramp up when you jump far mustinstead of enjoying the flight on the air cushion.
In the end, Horngacher resorted to the last trick, shortening the run-up for the flight artist Markus Eisenbichler, namely by two hatches. Eisenbichler had to cover at least 131 meters in order to score ten additional points and still intercept the opponents who were strong that evening. But bronze wasn’t there either. Eisenbichler landed at 130.5 meters, so it was 50 centimeters too little. “Perhaps a hatch would have been enough,” he said. “It wasn’t agreed with me either. That’s also a bit of a shame.” He also quarreled loudly with the decision of national coach Horngacher – an understandable reaction, which, however, was also sometimes listened to by an audience of millions.
The penultimate day of the World Championships ended with a celebration for the hosts, because Slovenia, with its outstanding top jumpers Anze Lanisek and Timi Zaic, won gold ahead of Norway and Austria. For the Germans, on the other hand, who can be satisfied with their general record, this penultimate day ended with a breakdown (the missed 50 centimeters) – having already started with a breakdown at midday (Hennig’s failed ski change).