Germany’s Vogt wins historic women’s ski jump Olympic gold

Agence France-Presse

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The big surprise was the complete absence on the podium of Japanese teen sensation Sara Takanashi, currently World Cup leader and Youth Olympic champion

AT THE PODIUM. Gold medal winner Carina Vogt (C) of Germany celebrates with silver medal winner Daniela Iraschko-Stolz (L) of Austria and bronze medal winner Coline Mattel of France during the Ladies' Normal Hill Individual competition at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Games, Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, 11 February 2014. Fehim Demir/EPA

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia – Germany’s Carina Vogt made history on Tuesday, February 11, winning the first ever women’s ski jumping event at an Olympic Games in a nail-biting finale that left favorite Sara Takanashi off the podium.

Vogt, who already led after the first run, grabbed a total 247.4 points with jumps of 103 and 97.5 meters, and sank to her knees in tears after seeing the results.

Austrian favorite and 2011 world champion Daniela Iraschko-Stolz was second with 246.2 points, ahead of France’s Coline Mattel at 245.2 points.

But the big surprise was the complete absence on the podium of Japanese teen sensation Takanashi, currently World Cup leader and Youth Olympic champion.

The 17-year-old was the firm favorite to win gold on the RusSki Gorki hill, having won 10 out of 13 World Cup races this season, but only managed a third place after her first jump.

A second jump of 98.5 m was not enough to catch up with her rivals and she finished fourth.

“I couldn’t jump the way I wanted to on both attempts,” said the three-time junior world champion and World Cup title winner from last year.

“I came here wanting to do my best. I’m incredibly disappointed.”

But she tried to see the silver lining: “It’s a good experience being at the Olympic Games and I’m glad to be part of it.”

For Vogt, who has made eight World Cup podiums this season but is still chasing her first win, this victory was hard to explain.

“I cannot find the right words… I wouldn’t have thought it was possible three hours ago,” she said.

“It’s amazing, I’m the first woman (Olympic) champion in ski jumping. I’ve not won a World Cup till now. It’s unbelievable.”

Tuesday’s floodlit event had been widely seen as a battle between Takanashi and Iraschko-Stolz, her senior by 13 years.

Close to a fall

The Austrian stood in fifth after the first jump but put in a risky performance in the final round, reaching a whopping 104.5 m and holding her landing despite coming close to a fall.

“It was a very good feeling, my best jump today,” she said.

“I was a little bit shocked because I jumped so far and my landing was not very good, but I think I lost the gold in my first jump and now I have silver.”

Mattel, 18, who already won a World Cup race in Sochi in 2012, was also speechless.

“It’s just amazing. It might be the best day of my life so far. I was very stressed… and somehow I’m glad it’s over. It’s been the longest day of my life and I did it.”

Reigning world champion Sarah Hendrickson, was 21st.

The US jumper had struggled to come back for the Olympics after sitting out the entire season due to a knee injury.

Still, the result was honorable so soon after undergoing surgery in August and with poor training results over the weekend.

Ahead of Tuesday, Hendrickson had already said she wouldn’t miss this event, after years of battle to get women’s ski jumping recognized at senior level.

World championships were introduced only in 2009 and the first World Cup season, won by Hendrickson, was in 2011-2012.

Men’s ski jumping, meanwhile, has featured at every Olympics since the Games began in 1924 in Chamonix, France.

Two women competing on Tuesday, Lindsey Van and Jessica Jerome from the US, were even among 15 jumpers who took the matter to court in 2008 to get their sport included at Olympics.

With this first venture on Olympic soil, the jumpers definitely raised their game on Tuesday, with six jumping over 100 m, something that hardly happened in their nine training jumps. –

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