The ski jumping events have officially come to a close for the 2014 Winter Olympics, but there are plenty of skiers that emerged as stars in Sochi.
Whether it was Kamil Stoch dominating both of the men's individual events or Carina Vogt winning the first ever women's ski jumping competition, both skiers look like early favorites to repeat in the 2018 Winter Olympics.
Then there was the final team event in which Germany pulled out a gold medal thanks to several great jumps. But with no true stars on their men's team outside of Severin Freund, who failed to medal prior to the team portion, the individual success simply isn't there for the Germans.
With the Olympic ski jumping competitions over until the 2018 Games, here is a look at a few of the top contenders moving forward.
Kamil Stoch, Polland
At 26 years old, Stoch is a young buck in the sport of ski jumping. In fact, the man that he beat out for gold in the large hill portion, Noriaki Kasai of Japan, is 41 years old.
All Stoch did was become the third Olympian ever to collect gold medals in both the normal hill and large hill events. Despite the historic victory in Sochi, Stoch said he wasn't thinking about the mark, according to the Associated Press:
I have weird thoughts at this moment. I'm thinking, 'Is it happening for real or is it a dream?' [...] I'm not thinking about the fact that I'm third in history. It's a shock for me that I made it because of the jumps I did today. The second jump was tragic.
If Stoch doesn't believe he showed his best and still won two gold medals for Polland, just imagine what lies ahead for him with several years still remaining for his career
Stoch will be just 30 years old in 2018 and looks primed to continue his reign over the sport. But with young talent still emerging he will need to battle to remain the top ski jumper in the sport.
Carina Vogt, Germany
In the first ever women's ski jumping event, Vogt smashed the other competition in the event.
And at just 22 years old, Vogt should be expected to continue her success in the years following the Sochi Games. Vogt spoke about the win, per Paul Myerberg of USA Today:
"I was just thinking about the jump," Vogt said. "Until now, I am a little bit surprised that I could manage with that amount of pressure that I had. This is a fantastic thing for me."
The historic win for Vogt may have came as a surprise for her, but the German skier who finished with a bronze in the 2013 World Championships is now at the top of the sport.
Outside of just being a huge win for the German herself, Simon Hart of The Telegraph points out that Vogt's win is just another sign as the unpredictable nature of the Olympics:
Never mind the historical significance of Tuesday night’s contest at the RusSki Gorki Centre as women’s ski jumping made its overdue debut on the Olympic programme. This was just the age-old business of winning and losing on the biggest stage of all.
Vogt, who has never won so much as a single World Cup event in her career, looked stunned after triumphing with jumps of 103 and 97.5 metres and a combined score of 247.4 points.
As a young athlete and one that didn't crumble under the pressure of the Olympics, expect to see Vogt carry this success into next season and even into the 2018 Olympics.
Peter Prevc, Slovenia
Though he wasn't able to overshadow the immense success of Stoch, Peter Prevc was still a star in Sochi who won two medals of his own.
The 21-year-old pulled out a silver medal in the normal hill and a bronze in the large hill in his first Olympics ever. With that type of success already, Prevc has a bright future moving forward.
The Slovenian spoke about his first Olympics experience, per Dennis Passa of the Associated Press:
"I'm still collecting the best memories of my life," Prevc said. "My performance today was one of the best. I was struggling during training."
After watching 41-year-old Kasai compete and finish on the podium with him, Prevc knows that he has plenty of time to continue improving in the sport. He spoke about that following his experience, according to Martyn Herman of Reuters:
I have huge respect for Noriaki Kasai. I wasn't even born when he was jumping in the World Cup and when he was battling me I said I still had 20 years to improve myself. He's an inspiration for my future jumping.
If he can continue his success for as long as Kasai, Prevc's career might not only be impressive but a historic one as well. As he continues to elevate in the sport, Prevc could be one to watch as he tries to catch Stoch and move up the podium at the next Winter Olympics.
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