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Poland's Kamil Stoch takes gold in Olympic ski jumping

By PAP
Kamil Stoch of Poland (top) celebrates with teammates Stefan Hula (L), Maciej Kot and Dawid Kubacki (R) after winning the Men's Large Hill Individual Ski Jumping competition Saturday at the Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Games. Photo by Diego Azubel/EPA-EFE
Kamil Stoch of Poland (top) celebrates with teammates Stefan Hula (L), Maciej Kot and Dawid Kubacki (R) after winning the Men's Large Hill Individual Ski Jumping competition Saturday at the Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre during the Pyeongchang 2018 Olympic Games. Photo by Diego Azubel/EPA-EFE

Feb. 17 (UPI) -- Kamil Stoch became Olympic ski jumping champion Saturday in Pyeongchang.

In the competition on the large hill, he overtook Germany's Andreas Wellinger and Norway's Robert Johansson.

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It is the first Polish medal at this year's Winter Olympics and the twenty-first in history. Stoch won the third Olympic gold of his career. Four years ago in Sochi he triumphed on both the normal and large hills.

Kamil Stoch (30) was born in the southern Polish mountain village of Zab, the highest municipality in the country, and has been skiing since he was three years old. At the age of eight he joined the local sports club and made his first jump, later saying that the discipline had always fascinated him. He made his first appearance on Zakopane's Wielka Krokiew ski jump at the age of 12 as a trial jumper in the Nordic combined event, in which he achieved an unprecedented 128 metres.

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In 2003, he started competing as an adult, and on January 17, 2004, took apart for the first time in the World Cup in Zakopane, finishing 49th. In 2004 and 2005 he won two silver medals in the Junior World Cup, in the team event. His first solo result in adult competition came on February 11, 2005, when he took 7th place in the World Cup in Pragelato, Italy.

His first World Cup success came on January 23, 2011, when he won at the Wielka Krokiew in Zakopane, becoming the fourth Polish jumper to have achieved the feat after Stanislaw Bobak, Piotr Fijas and Adam Malysz, and became Malysz's natural successor. His victory in Poland was quickly followed by further wins in Klingenthal, Germany, and Planica, Slovenia, where he competed against Malysz for the last time - before mounting the podium, Stoch performed a highlanders dance dressed in traditional Polish regional costume before doffing his hat and bowing to Malysz in a symbolic 'passing of the baton.'

In the 2012/13 season, Stoch took third place in the World Cup general classification, and at Italy's Trampolino Dal Ben in Predazzo in February 2013 he became world champion. "My father once told me it's necessary to lose a hundred times in order to win once. And it happened. Thank you dad," he recalled after his winning jump.

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The 2013/14 season saw Stoch secure two Olympic gold medals as well as winning the World Cup general classification, after which he was voted Poland's best sportsperson in a national vote. After the successes of the Olympic season, the following two were less outstanding. In 2014/15 he took ninth place on the World Cup general classification and a season later finished 22nd. In the 2015 team event he won a bronze medal, as he had previously in 2013.

In 2017, Stoch celebrated team success again with a gold in the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships 2017 in Lahti, Finland, and a win in the final classification of the Nations Cup. In the current season, prior to the Four Hills Championship, Stoch failed to win any World Cup events, however he mounted the podium three times, with second places in Wisla, Poland, and Engelberg, Switzerland, and a third place also in Switzerland.

On January 20, 2018, Stoch won a silver medal in ski flying at Oberstdorf in Germany having earlier won the Four Hills Tournament, becoming only the second jumper ever to win at all four hills in the same year. On January 21, he took bronze together with his team mates in the ski flying team event, the first time a Polish team had won a medal in a ski flying event.

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On February 4, 2018, Stoch won the Willingen Five event to again lead in the World Cup rankings.

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