Ski jump tournament starts

30th December 2011, by Chris Gill

Leap over Innsbruck

Leap over Innsbruck

Some of the world’s best ski jumping events are taking place at four Alpine locations from this week, part of the World Cup series but also a tournament in its own right.

The Four Hills Tournament (Vierschanzentournee) takes place at two German locations, Oberstdorf and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, and two Austrian venues – Innsbruck and Bischofshofen (near Salzburg). The premier ski jumping event takes place between Christmas and New Year annually, and has done so since 1952. In this case, actual points scored during the competition are the ones used to determine the eventual winner, as well as counting towards the World Cup series.

And unlike other major ski jumping competitions, all four events work on a knock-out basis for qualification. So, 50 of so competitors take part as 25 pairs, each of the individual winners of each pair qualifies for the second round, as do five others.

If you have ever stood at the top of an international ski jump, you’ll know it’s a major achievement to leap off one of these. To capture the Four Hills title, the jumpers view the achievement as on par with an Olympic gold or World Championship win. One competitor Janne Ahonen is the only person to have won the tournament five times. Others have managed three wins and most successful wins have been among the German nation, with Norway a close second.

The Four Hills starts in Oberstdorf from 29/30 December 2011. The finale is in Austria’s Bischofshofen, close to the little known but extensive Hochkönig ski area, and with the largest hill on the tour at 140m. The German Sven Hannawald made jumping history here back in 2002 when he was the first to win all four of the hills, on the occasion of its 50th Anniversary. Six foot tall and weighing 10 stone, Hannawald landed the fourth hill in Bischofshofen, shattering his own personal best, with a jump of 139m and an outstanding 131.5m on his second jump.

Since this achievement, Hannawald was diagnosed with stress-related burnout and retired aged 30 in 2005. Thankfully, the much-loved Hannawald has since recovered and now amuses himself as a TV sports commentator, a decent centre-forward for TSV Burgau in Germany’s lower football leagues and an improving Touring Car race driver.

Bischofshofen information: thanks to Rob Rees for his contribution.

Here’s a clip of last year’s win (Thomas Morgenstern), 6 January 2011.


Four Hills tournament in Bischofshofen, Austria

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