Austrian ski jumper Stefan Kraft is the 2017 World Cup overall champion and reigning world champion on both the normal and large hills.
Ski jumping beginnings
Kraft was born May 13, 1989. He began playing soccer at age 4, but after watching his friend participate in a ski jumping competition when he was 10, he decided to give it a try for himself.
Major competitions/ medals
During the 2014-15 season, Kraft finished third among the World Cup overall standings. He found success at the 2015 World Championships, where he won two medals. He picked up a bronze on the normal hill, placed fifth on the large hill, and won a silver in a team event.
The following season, he fell to sixth on the overall World Cup rankings. Leading up to the 2016-17 season, Kraft began working with a new coach, the now-retired Wolfgang Loitzl who won eight Worlds medals. Loitzl calls Kraft “the king of style” and the team worked specifically on Kraft’s landings.
The work paid off, as Kraft won both individual gold medals at the 2017 World Championships. He was the first Austrian man to win both the normal and large hill golds at the same world championships. Also in 2017, he won his first World Cup overall title.
Kraft owns four junior world championships medals. In 2011, he won gold with his Austrian team and came away with an individual silver. He struggled at the 2012 Junior World Championships, where he placed seventh individually, but still won a team bronze. In 2013, his final junior season, he won an individual bronze medal and placed fourth in the team event.
Kraft set the world record in March 2017, when he jumped 253.5 meters. The previous mark was 251.5 meters.
Kraft is the first Austrian ski jumper to win both individual golds at one world championships – though five other men have previously done so.
Kraft says one of the most important factors for him as an athlete is his family, who is often present at competitions and supports him in all aspects of his life.
Kraft will make his Olympic debut at the 2018 PyeongChang Games.
Outside of training
Away from the ski jump, Kraft enjoys soccer – which he played as a child – and beach volleyball.
His last name, which means “force” in German, often gets laughs from Austrian journalists. Kraft states simply, “I like my name.”