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High-flying teen shakes up ski jumping world

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Photo: DPA
11:49 CET+01:00
A German teenager is making waves in the world of ski jumping, coming from nowhere to take the lead in the World Cup in Lillehammer and prompting comparisons with former Olympic champions.

The 17-year-old Andreas Wellinger reportedly left commentators scrambling for information when he took the lead in the Norwegian ski resort.

He is a discovery of German national coach Werner Schuster, who discovered Gregor Schlierenzauer and developed him into a world class jumper. Schuster said he found Wellinger in the summer at a training camp where the German national team were working the B-team and some of the C-squad athletes.

"Andi is a highly interesting man. He has convinced me of his qualities," Schuster said.

Wellinger has started as an individual three times, coming fifth twice and 17th once. But he is one of ten who have already qualified for this weekend's jump at the Olympic grounds in Sochi, Russia - and was the best-performing German of the team which won in Kuusamo, Finland.

Wellinger started off with Nordic combined skiing in the Bavarian town of Ruhpolding aged just seven, and spent eight years busy with that combination of jumping and cross-country competitions before in February 2011 he switched to jumping at the specialized ski school in Berchtesgaden.

"I was simply not motivated by cross-country; it was no fun for me. But jumping was great," he said.

He was a member of the victorious German team in the youth Olympics this year in Innsbruck - and came fourth in the individual competition. This kicked him up into the German senior A-team. He has already secured his ticket for the World Cup in Val di Fiemme in February.

"This is all crazy," he said - as international experts have already started comparing him with Gregor Schlierenzauer and Thomas Morgenstern - world and Olympic champions.

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DPA/The Local/hc

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