In the midsummer madness of injuries and problems, the representatives of Norway and Poland were the only ones whose preparations for the up-coming season run without much perturbation. However, just like a bolt out of the blue came the news last week about another injury of Kenneth Gangnes. For the umpteenth time, Norwegians have to go through the season without one of their most talented ski jumpers. Can this season still be more successful than the previous one?
The Vikings’ ski jumpers didn’t impress us last season. Alexander Stoeckl’s athlete’s failed already at the beginning of the season. Daniel-Andre Tande in his best disposition was not able to make a big individual success, ending the season with only the third place in the Overall World Cup. The silver medal from the team competition at the World Championships and the two team victories on the ski flying hills sweeten the pill to them after a weaker starts in the season. But still, it didn’t make up for their struggles. In this season the Norwegians will want to return to the top that they achieved in the 2015/2016 season.
Now, at the top of the hierarchy in Stoeckl’s team are Daniel-Andre Tande and Johann Andre Forfang. Tande returns after season, which, despite its average end, was still the best in his career. The third place in the overall classification puts the 23-year-old Norwegian among the candidates with the highest goals in the upcoming season. The 2015 World Junior Champion began last winter with a false start. The poor results in November and December pushed Forfang back to the Continental Cup. The 22-year-old returned for good to the World Cup only at the World Championships and he didn’t left the top ten since the competition in Oslo.
During the summer, the two young Norwegians reached similar results. Both of them started three times in the Summer Grand Prix. Forfang has collected 142 points, while Tande finished with 124 points in the overall classification. At the final competition in Klingenthal, Forfang stood at the bottom of the podium, just ahead of his older colleague. However, at the Norwegian Championship on the normal hill, Tande took the victory just as last year, while Forfang finished only sixth.
It looks like that the rest of the team is a bit behind. However, this gap could have been bridged by the injured Kenneth Gangnes, who collected the most points in this year’s SGP among the Norwegians. Despite a poor performance of the 28-year-old in Klingenthal, at the Norwegian Championships in the end of October he won the silver medal.
Anders Fannemel is undoubtedly one of the most talented jumpers of the team. The ski jumper from Hornindal showed his huge potential in the 2014/2015 season, when he finished fourth at the World Cup finals. After a breakthrough winter, the form of the 26-year-old is getting weaker and weaker year by year. Last season Fannemel finished only on the 26th place at the World Championship. 77 points from seven competitions of the last SGP also doesn’t indicate that this jumper would be the head of his team.
In the previous season important roles in Stoeckl’s team were played also by two flyers – Robert Johansson and Anders Stjernen. The former has positively surprised the ski jumping fans by ending the season with 424 points and a 14th place in the overall World Cup. The flying moustache of Norway was also outstanding by two 250-meter flights and a second place from Innsbruck with often changing weather conditions. During the summer Johansson manage to retain his good shape, finishing in the top ten at all the SGP competitions he took part in. The latter, Andreas Stjernen, showed changing performance at the hills this summer, collecting only 21 points in the overall classification. However, it shouldn’t cause anxiety. Last summer wasn’t a more successful one either for him but it didn’t stop him from defending his 12th position in the overall World Cup and he was also fighting for the podium at the World Championship on the big hill.
Halvor Egner Granerud was the best from the COC jumpers, whose goal is to get in to the World Cup team. Last winter, the Norwegian, known for his Internet pranks, showed the highest performance in the World Cup, ending the season with a total of 50 points . This summer the 21-year-old has already collected 137 points with six starts in the SGP. He competed in Hinterzarten and Tchaikovsky, where he finished fifth in both competitions. The Norwegian joker didn’t compete in Klingenthal, but confirmed his good shape at the Norwegian Championship, where he won the bronze medal.
Joachim Hauer’s starts looked really promisingly. After a great 2015/2016 season, the 26-year-old didn’t score any points last winter neither in the World Cup nor in the Continental Cup. At the moment, however, it seems that Hauer is managing to find the way back to his previous good form. He competed in the Summer Continental Cup competitions in Klingenthal, where he finished both times on the podium, first with a victory and then with a third place.
Joakim Aune showed good progress during last winter, he was a reliable competitor of the Continental Cup and he also collected his first points in the World Cup. The 24-year-old has recently undergone surgery and since then it was more about his career as a vlogger than about long jumps.
Joacim Oedegaard Bjoereng and Fredrik Bjerkeengen will, for sure, compete in the Continental Cup. Neither of them though managed to show a good form during the summer season. Tom Hilde hasn’t been able reach his previous level of jumping. The 30-year-old has won only a few dozen points in the Continental Cup.
Among the juniors, Marius Lindvik is the most worthy to be followed. So far, the 19-year-old has won a silver medal at the 2016 Youth Winter Olympics in Lillehammer. The summer season was not that successful for him. The young Norwegian scored points in the Continental Cup only once, by finishing 23rd in Trondheim.
Despite the injury of Kenneth Gangnes, the Norwegians still seem to be one of the strongest teams before the winter season. We can expect a lot from Daniel-Andre Tande and Johann Andre Forfang, just like from the Johansson-Stjernen-Fannemel trio, who should also show a decent performance. In the beginning of the winter it is also recommended to have an eye on Halvor Egner Granerud. During the past few years, the Norwegian national team has introduced a new ski jumper to the world every year – perhaps this season it will be Granerud’s turn. All in all it looks like the Norwegians will have a more trouble-free start than they had last season.