KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Already dominant in World Cup ski jumping this season, Kamil Stoch showed Friday why he's a strong gold medal favorite at the Sochi Olympics.
Under bright blue, sunny skies at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center, Stoch had two firsts and a second-place finish in three training runs for Sunday night's individual normal hill final.
Stoch is trying to keep Poland in the forefront of Olympic ski jumping following the retirement of Adam Malysz, who won silver in both the normal and large hills at Vancouver in 2010.
The men who finished around Malysz four years ago also performed well Friday.
Gregor Schlierenzaur of Austria, who won bronze in both the normal and large hills at Vancouver, was second in the third training jump. Olympic gold medalist Simon Amman tied for sixth.
Peter Prevc of Slovenia, second to Stoch in the World Cup standings this season, had three top-six finishes Friday.
Stoch, who has four World Cup wins this season, finished second to Japan's Taku Takeushi by just eight-tenths of a point in the opening training session Friday. He was then was three-tenths of a point ahead of Austria's Thomas Diethart in the second.
Stoch dominated the third run, finishing with 76.1 points to Schlierenzauer's 72.9.
In his first three runs Thursday, he finished 10th, 20th and 22nd. The improvement Friday prompted him to give the hill a nickname.
"I called her a mean girl," Stoch said. "She is not my best friend yet, but is becoming a good colleague."