Diethart and Morgenstern conquer Garmisch-Partenkirchen
Thomas Morgenstern, Thomas Diethart, Simon Ammann - FIS
With his first win in the World Cup, Thomas Diethart took the lead in the overall ranking of the 4-Hills-Tournament at the New Year's competition in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. While his parents were moved to tears in the audience, the 21-year-old could hardly believe what just happened: "It's great. It's fantastic to show such good jumps. Everything just works well for me right now. The atmosphere is an additional motivation, I'm enjoying it."
With the longest jumps of the day on 141 m and 140.5 m and 296.1 points, Diethart won 11 points ahead of his Austrian teammate Thomas Morgenstern, who jumped on 139 m twice. The Carinthian was still happy: "The second jump was not as good as the first one and I also lost some points with the landing. But I'm very, very proud that I was on the podium today."
The third place went to the winner of the competition in Oberstdorf, Simon Ammann, who was almost 20 points behind Diethart with his jumps on 133.5 m and 139 m. The Swiss is now also about 12 points behind Diethart in the overall ranking. "In order to win I would have needed two jumps like the second one, but I'm satisfied with the podium result. The race for the overall title is still open."
Anders Fannemel surprised in fourth with 275.5 points. With 138 m and 136.5 m Fannemel was the best Norwegian. Followed by Andreas Wellinger, who was the best German in fifth, Noriaki Kasai came in sixth with 265.3 points and is now fourth in the overall ranking of the 4-Hills-Tournament. Wellinger was happy about the good start of the year: "I can't really say what was the reason. I was just able to focus better on my jumps, and then you just jump five meters farther, the level of my jumps was higher. Others are fighting for the overall title, we can now go to Innsbruck without the pressure."
World Cup leader Kamil Stoch was seventh with 264.9 points and improved his result from Oberstdorf. But he is already about 60 points behind in the 4-Hills ranking. Also Gregor Schlierenzauer's chances to defend his title are not high anymore. He was eighth, 0.1 points behind Stoch, and is now about 50 points behind his teammate. "After his podium results Thomas now has the necessary self confidence and he doesn't have too much respect anymore. It was a great performance. It's great to have a young Austrian who can do that well. I don't need any extra motivation for Innsbruck. I still make some small technical mistakes and I have to improve to win. The home competitions are a good training vor me. After Oberstdorf I was angry because of the overall ranking, but you have to be realistic. Everything has to work out perfectly if you want to win. I'm not in my best shape right now. I'm looking forward to the competitions at home and will try to find the right track towards February."
New Year's Day went well for Richard Freitag. After he missed to qualify for the final in Oberstdorf, we came in ninth with 264.2 points. "It's not all good now, but I was able to fly again and we can continue working on that. I was happy that I qualified for the final as one of the lucky losers. After half of the Tournament we are not were we wanted to be as a team, but we are on the right track. In Austria I want to continue on this level and further improve my performance."
Finland's Anssi Koivuranta was tenth and achieved his best result in the World Cup in about two years. Jan Matura was eleventh and achieved a good result as well, he was followed by Andreas Kofler, who compeleted the strong result of the Austrians. Anders Bardal was only 13th and probably lost his chances to win the overall title. He now has to hope for bad days of the other contenders. "I'm not satisfied with my jumps today, I didn't jump long enough. But still I'm looking forward to the next competitions. Surprises can always happen during the 4-Hills-Tournament."
4-Hills record winner Janne Ahonen and Andreas Wank completed the Top 15. It was a disappointing day for the Slovenian team. After his strong third place in Oberstdorf, Peter Prevc was only 18th this time. Robert Kranjec, fifth in the qualification on Tuesday, and Jernej Damjan followed in 21st and 22nd. The 4-Hills winner of 2007, Anders Jacobsen, was 26th: "All in all I'm satisfied with the development, I'm pretty close to having some really good jumps. Right now I'm still lacking the decisive five or six meters. But I'm calm and I know that I'll get there. I hope that I can make the next steps in Innsbruck and Bischofshofen."
Martin Schmitt was one of four Germans in the final round and finished 27th. "It was important for me to qualify for the final. I was able to enjoy the jump and say good-bye in front of the home crowd. I always thought about that it was the last time and I was moved in the outrun. We'll see what's next, I don't know what the coaches' plans are now. He was happy to see that I got to fly today and this gave us both a positive feeling. If I'll get the chance to maybe earn a spot on the Olympic team and compete in the World Cup I would like to seize this opportunity. If not, then it would be okay as well because the others already achieved good results this season. I will now think about whether I want to quit or make a few more jumps."
Severin Freund closely missed to qualify for the final in 32nd. "If you start the 4-Hills in such a good shape, of course the goals are different. It's a pity that it didn't work well for me today. My jumps were not good and I was far behind the best. The jump in the competition today was better than the one in the qualification." Poland's Krzysztof Biegun was in the final, but came in 31st and couldn't score any points. Stefan Kraft was 30th and scored at least one. "The jump in the qualification as good, now we can go home. I like the hill in Innsbruck, Bischofshofen is my favorite hill. I'm not in a top shape, but it's not that bad. We'll see."
After the first half of the 62nd 4-Hills-Tournament, the top favorites Kamil Stoch and Gregor Schlierenzauer already lost some ground. The Austrian team got in a great shape on time for the first highlight of the season and Thomas Diethart and Thomas Morgenstern are first and second in the overall ranking before the home events in Innsbruck and Bischofshofen. Simon Ammann is third and still has a good chance to win. If the Swiss can show four good jumps in the next competitions, his dream of the winning the 4-Hills might come true.
For Noriaki Kasai and Anders Bardal, currently fourth and fifth, Saturday's competition in Innsbruck will be extremely exciting. Not only a few 4-Hills leaders experienced unpleasant surprises in Innsbruck. 34-year-old Michael Neumayer is the best German, but only in eleventh. The 16th place of Andreas Wellinger and the 23rd of Severin Freund are disappointing for the two athletes, who were considered to be among the favorites for the overall title. If Thomas Diethart remains in his outstanding shape until next Monday, then the 62nd 4-Hills-Tournament might end with a sensational result. But Thomas Morgenstern and Simon Ammann will be there if the young athlete of Hinzenbach makes a mistake.