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The Warsaw Voice » Society » February 6, 2008
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Ski-Jumping Overshadowed by Tragedy
February 6, 2008   
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The ski-jumping World Cup competition held in Zakopane in Poland's Tatra Mountains has been overtaken by bad luck lately. As in the previous two years, the pall of tragedy hung over it in January. There was a bright note, however, in the form of Adam Ma造sz, who seemed to be regaining his form.

The World Cup in Zakopane two years ago was overshadowed by the deadly collapse of a trade fair hall in the southern Polish city of Katowice, while last year Czech ski-jumper Jan Mazoch suffered a serious accident while taking part in the competition. This time, the entertainment events accompanying the competition had to be scaled down considerably after 20 people died when a military transport plane carrying a group of senior air force officers crashed in northwest Poland Jan. 23, the country's worst military aviation accident since World War II. President Lech Kaczy雟ki declared a period of national mourning after the disaster.

Eighty contestants from 19 countries took part in the ski-jumping competition, scheduled for Jan. 25 and 26. The qualifying round and the first competition were held in perfect weather with no wind and temperatures slightly below freezing. Ma造sz, who in recent events has finished outside the top 20 or even the top 30, came alive on the Wielka Krokiew hill, and finished 11th in the first competition. The other Polish ski-jumpers who had qualified for the main competition fared worse. Kamil Stoch ended 21st, Stefan Hula 24th, Marcin Bachleda 33rd, and ㄆkasz Rutkowski 38th. The winners, as in the previous competitions, were the Austrian team, with Gregor Schlierenzauer taking first place, while his teammate Thomas Morgenstern, who is leading the World Cup standings, ended third. Anders Jacobsen from Norway was second.

The second competition was to take place Jan. 26, but the event had to be put off until the following day because of winds. The winner in the first round was Norway's Anders Bardal, with Morgenstern runner-up and Simon Amman from Switzerland in third place. The wind prevailed in the final round and the competition finished after just one round of jumps. Ma造sz came fourth, his best result this season. It earned him the Man of the Day title, awarded in every World Cup competition to the best contestant from outside the top 10 in the general World Cup standings.

The Polish ski-jumpers picked for the World Cup in Zakopane included Klemens Mura鎥a, who is just 13 years old. He did not qualify for the main competition and ended up with the worst result in the qualifying round. According to Hannu Lepistoe, the Polish ski-jumpers' coach, it was a little too early to make a sports star out of the teenager. Still, Mura鎥a set a new record, as he was the youngest ski-jumper to be selected for any World Cup competition in history.

Urszula Chojnacka
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