peter prevc ski.jpg
Photograph: EPA/DANIEL KARMANN

Slovenia's Peter Prevc triumphed in the third stage of ski-jumping's Four Hills Tournament in Innsbruck on Sunday to close in on the overall title ahead of Germany's Severin Freund.

Prevc leapt 125 and a day's best 132 metres for 269.5 points and his fifth World Cup win of the season and second in the Four Hills after Garmisch-Partenkirchen. Freund, who suffered a crash-landing in practice, was second on 258.4 and Norway's Kenneth Gangnes third on 251.5.

Prevc leads the Four Hills rankings into the final event in Austria's Bischofshofen on Wednesday with 842.1 points, a 19.7-point advantage over Freund. Gangnes is third on 800.2.

Should Prevc win the Four Hills, he will end a recent bad omen as the World Cup leader at the time has only won the title on four occasions in the past 15 years.

Prevc currently tops the World Cup standings on 824 points, ahead of Freund on 639 and Gangnes on 550.

"I'm really happy," Prevc said in first television interviews. "Innsbruck was the biggest challenge for me.

"The tournament is not over, there is always something that can happen. It will be hard in Bischofshofen. I must continue exactly like this."

Austrian jumpers have won the Four Hills for the last seven years but an eighth consecutive victory looks unlikely as Michael Hayboeck tops their challenge fourth overall but more than 40 points adrift of Prevc.

Freund is an Olympic and world champion in addition to being the reigning World Cup overall holder but has never won the Four Hills crown.

His victory in the opening event in Oberstdorf had given Germany hopes of a first winner since Sven Hannawald in 2002 but this dream is now fading.

"Peter did things extremely confidently," Freund conceded. "The overall rankings look relatively clear, it would require a miracle or a mishap (for me to win in Bischofshofen). I don't want anyone to have a mishap, therefore I hope for a miracle.

"But above all I want to show a good competition."

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