The first competition of the 62nd 4-Hills-Tournament in Oberstdorf provided many surprises. Four-time Olympic Champion Simon Ammann took the win in front of 25,000 fans. Norwegian World Champion Anders Bardal still has to wait for his first win during the 4-Hills, but his second place today put him in a good position for the rest of the tournament. Surprisingly, Slovenia's Peter Prevc and Thomas Diethart of Austria shared third place.
The two top contenders, Gregor Schlierenzauer and Kamil Stoch, came in ninth and 13th. In the battle for the overall title, they are now already 20 and 30 points behind Ammann.
For Ammann, the win was his second at the 4-Hills-Tournament: "It was extreme for us jumpers. Already at noon I thought that I used up all the adrenaline, I just wanted to make it through. Right from the start they were jumping 140 m. I stayed positive and had my best jump of this season in the first round. In my second jump my skis were not really stable. I saw the green line, but I didn't know if it was enough to win. At the end I was just happy when I saw the 1 on the monitor. The audience was amazing. For me ski jumping is still as much fun now as it was the first time and to share this feeling with 25,000 people is great. It can't get any better. We'll see how it goes until Bischofshofen."
Bardal was satisfied with the competition: "It was a good day for me, the two jumps were good, but not perfect. I was hoping it will be enough for the podium and it was. For me the conditions were not too difficult, but this hill is sensitive to changing winds. I don't think about winning the 4-Hills-Tournament yet, I just take one competition at a time. Let's count the points after Bischofshofen."
Prevc was surprised by his own performance: "I didn't expect to be on the podium today, but that's why I'm even happier about it. It was a tough competition because the wind was changing. I was lucky in the first round and took advantage of it. So far I was only on the podium once in Planica and the atmosphere here is very different."
Thomas Diethart was overwhelmed after the competition: "It's an amazing feeling to be on the podium here and I can't really express how great it is for me. The competition was a bit difficult, the wind was changing quite much, but it was not a problem for me. It's difficult to say why I'm jumping so well now. Everything feels easy for me, but I don't really know why."
Ammann already showed an impressive performance in the first round with his jump on 139 m and was leading before the final round. 133 m in the final earned him a total of 301.9 points, four points more than Bardal, who jumped on 133 m and 133.5 m. Peter Prevc (139.5 m and 134 m) and Thomas Diethart (139 m and 134.5 m) scored 297.3 points. After jumps on 132 m and 134.5 m, Thomas Morgenstern missed the podium by only 0.5 points. The oldest competitor, Noriaki Kasai of Japan, scored 2.3 points less and was sixth with 133 m and 130.5 m.
The impressive performance of the Austrian team was completed by Michael Hayboeck (284.6 points) in seventh and Gregor Schlierenzauer (281.6 points; 9th). But especially the defending champion expected a lot more from today's event. Best German was 22-year-old Marinus Kraus (282.0 points) in eighth. Severin Freund was tenth with 279.3 points, followed by his teammate Michael Neumayer (274.2 points).
Like the German team, for which Andreas Wellinger was only 29th, about 60 points behind Ammann, and Richard Freitag couldn't qualify for the final, it was also not a very good day for the Japanese. Apart from Kasai, Taku Takeuchi (12th) and Daiki Ito (16th) could not follow up on their very good results earlier this season.
Stoch, the favorite for the overall win, had a bad first jump. In the final he moved up from 26th to 13th, but with 272.0 points he is already far behind in the ranking. Klemens Muranka (14th), Jan Ziobro (17th) and Piotr Zyla (24th) will also not be able to fight for the overall title.
The result of the Norwegian team in Oberstdorf reflected the course of the season so far. There's a big gap behind Anders Bardal. Tom Hilde was 21st, former 4-Hills winner Anders Jacobsen was only 30th. While record winner Janne Ahonen lost his chance for a sixth win with a 25th place, his 19-year-old teammate Jarkko Maeaettae surprised in 23rd. Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes of Canada was 26th and scored World Cup points for the third time in a row.
After a day off on Monday, the 4-Hills-Tournament continues on Tuesday with the qualification for the New Year's event in Garmisch-Partenkirchen.