Home » Ski jumping: Ski jumping World Cup winner Stefan Kraft is an elegant “killer”

Ski jumping: Ski jumping World Cup winner Stefan Kraft is an elegant “killer”

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Ski jumping: Ski jumping World Cup winner Stefan Kraft is an elegant “killer”

Stefan Kraft flew this winter to third place among the all-time best ski jumpers in the world.

Photo: imago/GEPA/Thomas Bachun

Stefan Kraft raised his hands up in mock reproach, then hugged his teammate Daniel Huber, who was lying in the snow. With the dominant victory in the final season competition in Planica, the 31-year-old Huber took away the small crystal ball for overall victory in the Ski Flying World Cup from this winter’s outstanding ski jumper. Kraft can get over it – after all, in the Slovenian sunshine, he was presented with the large crystal ball for victory in the overall World Cup to crown a spectacular season. It is the third triumph of this kind in his career – only the Finn Matti Nykänen, who died in 2019, and the Pole Adam Małysz (4 each) have collected more.

»That was a fantastic season, the best of my career. It’s almost cheesy that I also won the Ski Flying World Championships at home,” said Kraft. The 30-year-old dominated the World Cup from start to finish and celebrated 13 victories this season – only Peter Prevc (15), who retired on Sunday to the cheers of thousands of compatriots, achieved more in 2016. Ski flying world record holder Kraft (253.5 meters) is already number 1 in ski jumping history with 118 podium places in the World Cup, and it seems only a matter of time before he has broken all the other important records.

Former German national coach Werner Schuster also believes this. “Stefan is an extraordinary athlete who can continue ski jumping at a high level for a few more years,” says the TV expert, who, as a fellow countryman and long-time trainer in the Austrian Ski Association, knows the dominator of the ski jumping world very well. He sums up Kraft’s extraordinary mix of success: »He has high skiing skills, the optimal physique for jumping, great basic technique and is also mentally very strong. A real competitor, a killer in a positive sense.«

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If you use this rather negative word for Stefan Kraft, you definitely have to add “elegant”. Because the man, who is only 1.70 meters tall, is not only an extraordinary distance hunter, but also the greatest stylist in the field. During his last flight he also received a dream grade of 20 from the judges three times for his perfect posture in flight and when landing.

The fact that he succeeded in (almost) everything this winter also had a lot to do with his rather unconventional preparation for the season for a competitive athlete. Together with his wife Marisa, Kraft went on a six-week trip around the world; Instead of a planned everyday training routine, the motto was spontaneity. The couple only booked the first flight to Bali, then they set off around the globe.

A completely new, initially difficult experience for the exceptional pilot. »I’m someone who always wants to do everything perfectly, for example when it comes to eating. It took me quite a long time before I stopped planning everything and learned to just be spontaneous,” reports Kraft. The journey continued via Sydney to Hawaii, where the Austrian got a tattoo for his 30th birthday. Further stops were Los Angeles and Paris before Kraft married his Marisa again in church after the civil wedding the previous year.

“It was simply a perfect summer, I felt more relaxed than perhaps ever before,” says Kraft. He is a fan of FC Bayern and is still the down-to-earth man who introduced himself nine years ago during his meteoric rise during the Four Hills Tournament: “I can’t stay in the apartment for more than 24 hours, then I get bored. I like being out in nature, I’m a very excited and happy boy. Laughter is good for the heart.« Kraft had every reason to do so this winter with a winning streak, world championship title in ski flying and overall World Cup victory. “In addition,” he collected 373,150 Swiss francs as prize money king. Enough for the next trip around the world.

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