Slovenia goes crazy as Zajc wins gold

03. 03. 2023

Slovenia goes crazy as Zajc wins gold

Timi Zajc has become the new world champion in ski jumping on the large hill in Planica. The 22-year-old Slovenian representative caused euphoria among the home fans in the valley under the Ponce mountains with his distance of the day in the second round. Second place went to Japanese Ryoyu Kobayashi, and David Kobacki won bronze. The Norwegian team won another gold medal in the men's relay race.

Dreams have come true for Timi Zajc as he became new World Champion in ski jumping. At the 43rd FIS Nordic Ski World Championships in Planica 2023, the 22-year-old Slovenian representative was the best and longest on the large hill. The first round was won by Japanese Ryoyu Kobayashi, but his second jump was unsuccessful and the euphoria in Planica reached new heights. The skier from Hramš performed an excellent first jump, landed at 137.5 meters and shared the longest distance of the first round with Karl Geiger. The second round was tense until the last jump. Two Poles were in the lead before Zajc's jump, and the pressure on the young Timi Zajc was very high.

World Champion TImi Zajc and slovenian national team © Bobo/Žiga Živulović ml.

The Slovenian flags and 8,500 spectators gave him extra energy for an outstanding second jump of 137 meters, which brought him his first world champion title in ski jumping. Zajc joined Franci Petek, Rok Benkovič, and Ema Klinec, who have won the FIS golden snowflake for Slovenia in ski jumping. "Immediately after the second jump, the landing, when I knew I had a medal, I really relaxed. It was really one of the nicer days of my life," said the newly crowned world champion without hesitation at the press conference.

Kobayashi had to settle for second place after an unsuccessful jump, and third place went to David Kubacki from Poland. "The second jump was very good, so I'm satisfied, but I was nervous before the jump. I like to jump in Planica," said the best Japanese skier after winning the silver medal. The defending champion from Oberstdorf, Austrian Stefan Kraft, finished sixth. Polish skier Piotr Zyla, the champion from the normal hill in Planica, did not impress and finished ninth. After an unsuccessful first jump, Anže Lanišek improved his performance with the second jump, but the total score was enough for 11th place.

In cross-country skiing, Norwegians remain unbeaten in Planica

The Norwegian men's relay team in cross-country skiing has not known defeat at the last twelve FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. Together they have won 27 medals, including 20 golds. Hans Christer Holund, Paal Golberg, Simen Hegstad Kueger, Johannes Hoesflot Klaebo are the Norwegian quartet that took the lead at the beginning and maintained it all the way to the finish. Since the 1991 championship, the Norwegians have only once missed out on a gold medal when the Austrians were better than them in Ramsau. "Finding motivation is never a problem when it comes to World Championships and relay races. We did our job excellently and won a gold medal," said Paal Golberg after the new achievement. The Finns won the silver medal, trailing the winners by almost 47 seconds and winning their first relay medal since 2009.

Norwegian quartet © Bobo/Luka Kotnik

Ristomatti Hakola was not at a loss for words at the press conference: "We have been dreaming of this medal for the last ten years, and today we have won it with our friends. Today we built on team spirit, and I think it worked out great for us."

The third place went to the Germans. The Slovenian team finished the relay race in 11th place with a lag of six minutes and 42 seconds.