Wearing the number one on his bib, Gruber crossed the line in 19 minutes and 47.5 seconds, comfortably ahead of nearest rival Todd Lodwick.
The American finished 4.3 seconds adrift of Olympic bronze medallist Gruber to take second place, while Japan’s Aikito Watabe was a whopping 34.4 seconds off the pace in third.
Gruber’s compatriot Christoph Bieler finished fourth another two seconds back, with Japan’s Yusuke Minato rounding out the top five.
The ski-jumping portion of the event takes place on Sunday.
- Yusuke Minato