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AUSTRIA

German ski-jumpers disappoint at home

Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer, the defending World Cup champion, won the second leg of the Four Hills ski jump event in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Bavaria on Friday. Germany's top-placed finish was Pascal Bodmer in 16th.

German ski-jumpers disappoint at home
Photo: DPA

The mainly German crowd of 25,000 had little to cheer in the home contingent, coached ironically by an Austrian in Werner Schuster. Bodmer was their top finisher in 16th spot while world championship runner-up Martin Schmitt could only come in 25th.

Schuster complained that Schmitt and co are “currently jumping well below their potential.”

Following a poor showing last Tuesday at Oberstdorf, where he could only place ninth, World Cup champion Schlierenzauer made no mistake as he leapt 136.5 and 137.5m for a total of 277.7 points.

That was enough to see off compatriot Wolfgang Loitzl, who twice jumped 135m for 272.5 points, while Swiss rival Simon Ammann was third after jumping 132 and 143.5m – a venue record – for 272.4 points.

Austrian Andreas Kofler, who won at Oberstdorf, came in fourth with leaps of 136 and 137 m for 271.9 points.

“The New Year has started off well – that was really a perfect day,” said Schlierenzauer, who put his off-day at Oberstdorf down to a stomach upset.

Finnish five-time overall winner Janne Ahonen, second at Oberstdorf on his comeback from retirement, could only manage sixth this time after jumps of 129.5m and 137m gave him 259.2 points.

After the two races Kofler leads the way with a 20-point advantage over Loitzl with Ahonen third five points further back.

After adding 2.5m to Schlierenzauer’s previous venue record of two years ago Ammann is fourth, just three points adrift of Ahonen – and three ahead of Schlierenzauer.

Ammann leads the overall World Cup standings after eight of 24 events with 529 points, with Schlierenzauer second on 511 ahead of Kofler on 426.

The next leg comes Sunday at Innsbruck with the final leg also in Austria, at Bischofshofen on January 6.

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SKIING

Austria avalanche kills three

An avalanche in the Salzburg region killed three people and injured two while they were skiing off-piste, Austria's Red Cross said Saturday.

Snow and avalanche protection fences seen on a clear day on mountains surrounding Lech am Arlberg, western Austria
Some mountains in Austria have snow and avalanche protection fences, like these seen on a clear day on mountains surrounding Lech am Arlberg, western Austria. ALEXANDER KLEIN / AFP

The accident happened Saturday about 2,400 metres (7,800 feet) up in the Lungau district, soon after 1:45 pm local time, Red Cross spokesman Anton Schilcher told the APA agency.

The snow buried eight of the group up to 4.5 metres deep, local emergency response official Christoph Wiedl told local media.

Two of the victims were already dead when their bodies were recovered, while the third died after being airlifted to hospital in Klagenfurt.

The two injured skiers were taken to hospital in the town of Tamsweg.

The skiers caught in the avalanche were from a group from the regions of Salzburg and Upper Austria.

In recent years, an average of around 20 people a year have been killed annually by avalanches in Austria.

The last two seasons were less deadly as the coronavirus pandemic reduced the number of skiers overall.

Avalanches killed four people in western Austria’s Tyrol region last February.

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