Sun, Nov 30, 2003 - Page 23 News List

Flying Finlander Matti Hautamaki continues to soar

AP , KUUSAMO, FINLAND

Finland's Matti Hautamaki picked up where he left off, beating Adam Malysz of Poland to win the World Cup ski jumping season opener on the K120 hill Friday night.

Hautamaki, winner of last season's finale in Slovenia, took an 8.9-point lead with a big 139m jump in the first round ahead of seasoned veterans Janne Ahonen of Finland and Norway's Roar Ljokelsoy.

Malysz, the three-time defending overall champion and a double world champion last season, trailed in fifth place.

Hautamaki jumped 133.5m in the second round for 291.5 points, while Malysz was way behind at 276.8 with 132 and 134m.

Ahonen and Ljokelsoy were two of many victims of a swirling wind. Ljokelsoy finished 10th and Ahonen dropped to 23rd after having to counteract a fall threatening him in the second round.

Hautamaki, 22, is the newest Finnish top star in the sport. He has an Olympic bronze medal from 2002, and a silver from the World Championships last season on the big hill, and he won both ski flying events in Planica to finish eighth overall last season.

"The wind swirled around jumpers, but luckily enough I had conditions for a normal performance," the ever modest Hautamaki said.

"I haven't been in a position that many times to start the second round as the last jumper in the lead, but I managed to stay surprisingly calm up there in the tower," Hautamaki said.

Hautamaki was backed up by youngster Veli-Matti Lindstrom who was third, up from 12th, with the longest jump in the second round, 135.5m.

Norway, the most improved ski jumping team last season under Finnish coach Mika Kojonkoski, placed three jumpers in the top 10.

Tommy Ingebritsen was the best Norwegian, losing a podium finish with 3.6 points, and Roar Ljokelsoy dropped from a tied second to 10th, losing 22.5m compared with his first jump of 133.5m.

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