The anniversary lends itself well to a comeback to victory. The 70th Four Hills Tournament is imminent, and Austria’s ski jumpers have been waiting a long time for a first-rate sense of achievement – an overall victory or at least a success in an individual competition. Stefan Kraft last celebrated it on December 30, 2016 in Oberstdorf, five years ago. Two years before that, he had become the last overall ÖSV winner to date. This time too, favorites are different.
Ryoyu Kobayashi is to be classified a little higher than Karl Geiger. The Japanese is only second behind the German in the interim World Cup results, but missed two individual competitions because of a positive corona test. Immediately before this compulsory break, the 25-year-old had won in Ruka at the end of November, but on the past two weekends he was back on second place with successes in Klingenthal and Engelberg.
“We are well on the way, even if we are definitely not the top favorites,” said ÖSV head coach Andreas Widhölzl after the tour dress rehearsal last Sunday in Engelberg. Training days on Tuesday and Wednesday on the Bergisel should give you the security and certainty of being able to keep up with the top contenders for the “Golden Eagle”. “As an outsider favorite, I definitely count myself among them,” said Kraft confidently.
For him and his colleagues, it’s about not letting the series of unsuccessful tours last as long as the successful series before it. From 2008/09 to 20014/15 Wolfgang Loitzl, Andreas Kofler, Thomas Morgenstern, twice Gregor Schlierenzauer, Thomas Diethart and Kraft had seven ÖSV triumphs en suite in this order. In the last six editions, however, others were on top, since Michael Hayböck’s third place in 2016 there has been no ÖSV podium.
Like the previous one, the anniversary edition of the tour is in the Corona shadow. Tests, hygiene and precautionary measures are omnipresent. While no spectators are allowed in Oberstdorf and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the competitions in Innsbruck and Bischofshofen will currently be watched by a maximum of 4,000 and 3,500 fans respectively. The prize money has finally been increased, the overall victory is now 100,000 francs (approx. 96,000 euros).