The lack of snow during the European summer has not been an issue for ski jumpers as they have been taking part in the annual Grand Prix, a series comparative in standard to the World Cups which takes place on an artificial surface. The final edition of the 2021 series takes place in Klingenthal, Germany on Friday 1 and Saturday 2 October and will feature all the top names before they head into the all-important winter World Cup season ahead of the Beijing Games.
The 2021 edition comprises eight competitions for men, seven for women and one mixed event, mainly in locations across Europe, between July and October.
Last season's men’s superstar winner, Halvor Egner Granerud, who exploded onto the scene winning five World Cup competitions in a row to take the overall 2020-21 title, looks set to repeat his winning ways at the Grand Prix. The Norwegian heads into the final event at the top of the ratings with 300 points with Austria’s Jan Hoerl 75 points behind, and Poland’s much-decorated Dawid Kubacki in third on 192 points.
All reigning world champions – who won their titles at the Oberstdorf, Germany event that took place earlier this year – will be competing on the Large Hill at the two-day event. Austria's Stefan Kraft and Poland’s Piotr Zyla, world champions on the Large Hill and Normal Hill, respectively, and the German men’s world championship-winning team of Markus Eisenbichler, Karl Geiger, Pius Paschke and Severin Freund, will all be competing at the Sparkasse Vogtland Arena.
Leaping at the chance
In the women’s series, Slovenia’s Ursa Bogataj is so far ahead of her challengers, with 520 points, that she has already claimed the overall Grand Prix title. The 26-year-old was crowned after claiming a first and second place at the previous double-header event in early September in Chaykovsky, Russia. Prior to this summer, the 26-year-old had not won a World Cup or Grand Prix event but will now be hoping to make it five out of seven wins with a strong finish this weekend.
Jumping legend, TAKANASHI Sara, one of the most successful athletes in the history of the sport, is in second on 260 points having only taken part in two events so far this season.
In April, the Japanese superstar claimed a record 109th World Cup podium, breaking the record of Finland's Janne Ahonen who had 108 podium finishes during his career.
Still only 24, Takanashi has also won four World Cup overall titles (an all-time female record), seven World Championship medals, and Winter Olympic bronze. No doubt she'll be looking to resume her gold medal quest come 5 February, when the ski jumping event begins at Beijing 2022.