12 degrees plus, bright sunshine – it was definitely one of the warmest New Year’s competitions in history. 20,000 fans, some in T-shirts, saw the next show of the high-flyer Halvor Egner Granerud at the second stop of the 71st Four Hills Tournament. After landing his spectacular 142-meter flight in the second round, he sat down in the yoga meditation seat in the melting snow of Garmisch-Partenkirchen – just like world football star Erling Haaland, who also comes from Norway, after his goals.
The German pilots experienced a bitter disappointment at the start of the new year with their weakest result in eight years. Andreas Wellinger ended up in eighth place, Karl Geiger was eleventh – so the dream of the first German overall victory in the tournament for 21 years came to an end once again halfway through the Grand Slam of ski jumping. “A miracle would have to happen now for us to still have a chance of overall victory here. But that was foreseeable before the tour. It’s just impressive how the others are sailing down,” commented a disappointed national coach, Stefan Horngacher. After four second places for the German ski jumpers in the New Year’s competitions in the past five years – 2018 Richard Freitag, 2019 and 2022 Markus Eisenbichler, 2020 Karl Geiger – this time there was a real crash.
Granerud, on the other hand, clinched the second day’s victory after his sovereign triumph in Oberstdorf, this time with a 6.4 point lead over Anze Lanisek from Slovenia and Dawid Kubacki from Poland. Double Olympic champion Andreas Wellinger was already more than 30 points behind in eighth place. In the overall standings, Geiger in fifth and Wellinger in sixth are almost 60 points behind the other two tour stops in Innsbruck (January 4) and Bischofshofen (January 6). That’s the equivalent of more than 30 meters – an almost unassailable distance.
Geiger in particular had obviously hoped for more from himself. But: »I didn’t manage to get one of my jumps to really snap. That’s just too bad. We take a step forward, but then a small step back.” So he had never really gotten into flight. And Wellinger, who was still fifth after the first round, was also impressed by “the show the best put on up front”.
On the other hand, 26-year-old Granerud’s chances of winning Norway’s first overall victory in 16 years are outstanding: In the overall standings he is already 26.8 points ahead of Kubacki – almost 15 meters. »Halvor is simply a 24-hour athlete – he does everything for the sport«, praised his trainer Alexander Stöckl. Now it is only important that he keeps his nerve in the remaining two competitions – because Granerud is currently in a class of his own in terms of sport.
Meanwhile, the Germans are still fighting to catch up with the world leaders and are still waiting for the first podium finish of this tour. Like at the start of the tour, the big ray of hope and hope for the future was newcomer Philipp Raimund in 15th place – the 22-year-old thus fulfilled the World Cup norm: “I used to see jumpers like Ryoyu Kobayashi and Stefan Kraft on TV – now I am here one in front of you. That feels cool.«
Veteran Stephan Leyhe (17th), Constantin Schmid (23rd), Pius Paschke (25th) and Felix Hoffmann (28th) also collected World Cup points. On the other hand, Markus Eisenbichler, who was second in the previous year, suffered the next blow: As in Oberstdorf, the six-time world champion was eliminated in the first round. “I sagged in mid-air. I’m just not stable enough for my system to work even under difficult conditions. But I won’t let that get me down and I’ll try again in Innsbruck,” Eisenbichler said defiantly.
Head coach Horngacher checked off the tour for the former pilot right after the start and declared the World Championships in Planica (February 22nd to March 5th) as the main goal. After the New Year’s competition in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, this should now also apply to the rest of the German ski jumping team.