A team of 23 athletes will represent Poland at the 42nd FIS Nordic World Ski Championships that begin on Wednesday in Oberstdorf, Germany. Among these, the male ski jumpers are Poland’s first and foremost potential medal hopes.
The picturesque Bavarian town will host the best Nordic skiing competitors for the third time in history, the last time the world championships were held in Oberstdorf was 2005. It was also the last event of this level when Poland did not win a single medal.
World Championships in Nordic skiing are held biennially and include three main disciplines: cross-country skiing, ski jumping and Nordic combined (cross-country+ski jumping). This year, the athletes will compete in 24 various events, half of them being held in cross-country skiing.
The championships will last from February 24 until March 7. All the main events in men’s ski jumping, as well as selected ones in ladies and men’s cross-country skiing will be available to watch on the Polish public broadcaster TVP channels.
All in all, the Polish skiers have won 10 gold, 7 silver and 11 bronze medals in the history of the Nordic World Ski Championships. The most successful Polish athlete is the legendary ski jumper Adam Małysz, with four gold, one silver and one bronze medals, while the cross-country skier Justyna Kowalczyk scooped the most medals - two golds, three silvers and three bronzes.
The Polish fans will certainly set their eyes on the men’s ski jumping competition. Kamil Stoch, Dawid Kubacki and Piotr Żyła are very experienced and titled jumpers, as every one of them has won at least one individual World Championship medal. Although he has lost his momentum, Andrzej Stękała, who proved that finishing in the top three is within his reach, could surprise as well.
While all of the above mentioned athletes are capable of pulling off a sensational effort in individual contests on normal and large hills, their combined strength could bring Poland a medal in the team competition. Nevertheless, nations such as Norway and Austria have both won team World Cup events this season and they can be considered the most fierce opponents at the moment. Despite struggling with injuries, Germany are also going to count in the fight for medals, while Japan has the prospective team who can shake things up.
In turn, apart from the Poles, the major favourites to win gold medals in the individual events are Halvor Egner Granerud from Norway, who has been dominating this season, and Ryoyu Kobayashi from Japan, who is finally returning to the winning track. Other major contenders for the podium are Granerud’s compatriot Robert Johansson, the German Markus Eisenbichler and Stefan Kraft from Austria.
While no place on the podium in men’s ski jumping competition will be considered a disappointment, a medal in any other event won by a Polish athlete will be a huge shock. Although Monika Skinder and Izabela Marcisz have recently scooped gold medals in junior world championships, they are yet to take on the best cross-country skiers, most notably, the Norwegians.
As it stands, female ski jumpers are not able to compete with their top rivals from abroad on equal terms yet - the sixth place in the mixed team event should be considered a big success, while individually, the promotion of any of the Poles to the second round will be welcomed.
Polish lineup for the 42nd FIS Nordic World Ski Championships:
Cross-country skiing: Izabela Marcisz, Monika Skinder, Karolina Kaleta, Weronika Kaleta, Karolina Kukuczka (ladies); Dominik Bury, Maciej Staręga, Kamil Bury, Mateusz Haratyk, Kacper Antolec (men);
Nordic combined: Szczepan Kupczak, Andrzej Szczechowicz (men);
Ski jumping: Anna Twardosz, Kinga Rajda, Kamila Karpiel, Joanna Szwab, Nicole Konderla (ladies); Kamil Stoch, Dawid Kubacki, Piotr Żyła, Andrzej Stękała, Jakub Wolny, Klemens Murańka (men).