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Vogt rules, Takanashi off podium Daniela takes silver

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia, Feb 11, (AFP): Germany’s Carina Vogt made history on Tuesday, winning the first ever women’s ski jumping event at an Olympic Games in a nail-biting finale that left favourite 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 metres, and sank to her knees in tears after seeing the results. Austrian favourite 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 favourite 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 metres 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.

The Austrian stood in fifth after the first jump but put in a risky performance in the final round, reaching a whopping 104.5 metres 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 honourable 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 recognised 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 metres, something that hardly happened in their nine training jumps.

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