SKI JUMPING Preview: Kobayashi faces Stoch, Kubacki and Zyla … in Poland

Poland's Olympic Ski Jumping gold medalist Kamil Stoch (Photo: Ailura, via Wikipedia)

The amazing season for Japan’s 21-year-old Ryoyu Kobayashi will get one of its sternest tests this week in Zakopane (POL), where he will face off against three of his prime contenders for the seasonal title, all from Poland: Piotr Zyla, Dawid Kubacki and Kamil Stoch.

Kobayashi leads the World Cup with 1,092 points and has won nine of the 13 events held so far. But three-time Olympic gold medalist Stoch is now up to second in the standings with 624 points with 15 events to go. Zyla is third with 591 points and Kubacki won last week Val di Fiemme to stop Kobayashi’s six-meet win streak and is fourth in the standings at 532.

It would be understandable if Kobayashi wasn’t at his best in Zakopane, as he heads home to jump in Sapporo on the 26th and 27th of January.

The schedule has a team competition on Saturday and an individual event off the 134 m hill on Sunday.

The men’s team event will be on NBC’s Olympic Channel on Saturday (delayed) at 4 p.m. Eastern time and Sunday’s competition will also be at 4 p.m. (delayed). Look for results here.

The women’s World Cup tour is still in Japan, but has moved from Sapporo to Zao, with three events of the 102 m hill: individual competitions on Friday and Sunday and a team event on Saturday.

Germany’s Katharina Althaus (530 points) appears to be in a competition with last year’s World Cup winner, Maren Lundby (NOR: 438), and teammate Julianne Seyfarth (356) for the 2018-19 Crystal Globe, and between them they have won six of the seven events held so far.

The trio also won five of the six medals in Sapporo last week Lundby won both jumps in Zao last season. The home crowd will be screaming for four-time World Cup champion Sara Takanashi, who has won seven times in Zao, but not since 2016.

NBC’s Olympic Channel has coverage from Zao on Friday at 1:30 p.m. Eastern time (delayed), on Saturday at 10 a.m. Eastern (delayed) and on Sunday at 5 p.m. Eastern (delayed). Look for results here.