Between Hannawald, Haaland and Hanks (

Halvor Egner Granerud dominated the first two competitions of the Four Hills Tournament.

Photo: imago/Oryk HAIST

When Sven Hannawald celebrated the last overall German victory at the Four Hills Tournament 21 years ago, Halvor Egner Granerud was still a little boy in distant Norway. But even then they had something in common, because Granerud was probably Hannawald’s biggest fan in the country of origin of ski jumping. “I jumped in the garden at home and my skis were the same color as Sven Hannawald’s,” said the 26-year-old recently.

After his outstanding victories in Oberstdorf and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Granerud is now well on the way to winning the most important ski jumping event of the year. Sven Hannawald even trusts the flying Norwegian to win the competitions in Innsbruck and Bischofshofen – and thus as the fourth ski jumper after Hannawald, Kamil Stoch and Ryoyu Kobayashi to win all four competitions in a tour. “I’m happy to give him the key to our exclusive club,” says Hannawald: “Granerud’s jumps are simply outstanding at the moment.” All experts agree on this assessment.

The overall World Cup winner in 2020/21 has always been a gifted pilot, but over the past two winters he has often failed due to his own nerves at various highlights of the season. Whether at the Four Hills Tournament or the 2021 World Championships in Oberstdorf, where he was not able to win an individual medal as the top favorite. “Halvor is a 24-hour athlete, does everything for the sport. Sometimes a bit too detailed and too cerebral,” says Norway’s head coach Alexander Stöckl: “But he’s getting a better handle on it. Showing such a performance in the most important competitions of the year is gigantic and extremely strong on nerves.«

Granerud himself says that he “found a way to deal with the pressure”. A psychologist also helped him. For this reason, too, he sat down in the snow in a yoga meditation pose immediately after his winning jump at the New Year’s competition in Garmisch-Partenkirchen – apparently also a homage to Norway’s soccer star Erling Haaland, who has often struck the pose after his goals. “I felt so much joy, pride and relief. After all, one of my biggest dreams as a ski jumper has come true«, Granerud later described this moment.

An even bigger dream would be Norway’s first overall tournament victory since Anders Jacobsen 16 years ago: “That would mean the world to me.” it’s more than likely. And that, although trainer Stöckl is always trembling as to whether Granerud will get his right ski into the right flying position in time. The mistake has gotten him into trouble a couple of times and always lets him sail dangerously close to the right edge of the landing hill. »Despite his ski mistake, Granerud makes the decisive meters, especially in flight. Once his system takes effect, he just flies straight ahead,« says his longtime German rival Karl Geiger admiringly.

Granerud is indeed an extraordinary aviator, that was already evident in his childhood. He allegedly gave his parents a clear order to keep him from playing Playstation games: “After all, I want to be the best in the world,” he is said to have said. There were a few detours along the way. In his wild youth, Granerud jumped naked from a 60-meter hill in Oslo after a barbecue with friends. Of course, this was captured in pictures. Since then, Granerud has gone by the nickname »Nakenhopperen«. By the way, he still thinks that »it was the funniest day of my life as a ski jumper«.

Today’s ski jumping star later worked in a kindergarten in his home town of Trondheim. There he had to earn extra money in spring 2020 after a 23rd place had been his best World Cup result in the previous winter and he was hardly supported by the national association. The versatile joker apparently cut a very good figure in the new job in the middle of the corona pandemic. The director of the facility reported that the children were very happy with the ski jumper. During this time, Granerud also thought about what he wanted to do with his life as a ski jumper.

That was the beginning of his spectacular rise. In winter 2020/2021, the Norwegian won the overall World Cup and the team title at the Ski Flying World Championships. However, that winter he also had to endure a long quarantine after a corona disease during the Nordic World Ski Championships in Oberstdorf. On Day 14 of the agonizingly long quarantine, Granerud posted a picture of himself having coffee with a snowman he had named Wilson. Like in the movie »Cast Away«, in which Tom Hanks is stranded on a deserted island after a plane crash and a volleyball becomes the only person to talk to. Now everyone in the ski jumping world wants to talk to Halvor Egner Granerud – even his former idol Sven Hannawald.



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