INNSBRUCK,AUSTRIA,02.JAN.21 - NORDIC SKIING, SKI JUMPING - FIS World Cup, Four Hills Tournament, large hill, qualification. Image shows Stefan Kraft (AUT) and Michael Hayboeck (AUT). Photo: GEPA pictures/ Patrick Steiner

A unique, 69th 4 hills tournament is in the books

It was without a doubt a unique and very special 4 Hills tournament at its 69th edition. On the one hand, the Corona virus put this ski jumping spectacle to the test and on the other hand, individual challenges for Michi Hayböck and Stefan Kraft made the 4hills a particularly difficult task – which, of course and unfortunately, had to be carried out without the loyal fans.

For Krafti, the qualification in Oberstdorf after missing the general rehearsal in Engelberg was a kind of “welcome back” competition. On the “Schattenbergschanze” in the Allgäu, Stefan Kraft wanted to find a certain competition rhythm again and tried to build up and maintain a certain tension in the competition. For Michael Hayböck, after many constant jumps, the anticipation of the 4hills spectacle was great and also for the “shark” the aim was to gain constancy. In the qualification, “Michl and Kraftl” already managed constant jumps and in the end they were both quite satisfied with places 11 and 16. The next day, at the first main competition, there was a crying and a laughing eye in the double room Hayböck / Kraft. Stefan was able to cheer with really cool jumps and place 6 at the end, for buddy and roommate Michi it was a day to forget with place 48.

… is always one of those things on tour;) No, joking aside. Michi and Stefan have had a lot of trouble with the Olympic hill in recent years. Nonetheless, the two were motivated to the tip of their hair. With promising placements in the qualification (4 and 12), Krafti and Michi ended the old year and looked forward to the New Year’s competition in Garmisch. Unfortunately, a certain disappointment was part of this competition very soon. With places 28 and 34, Garmisch was unfortunately once again “difficult ground” and not worth the trip. So the motto was “pack all your bags quickly and off to Austria, to the legendary …

Arrived in Innsbruck, the joy of red-white-red was great. After all, the Austrian stations are always something very special for every (Austrian) athlete. Even if jumping into the deserted grandstand at Bergisel (please) shouldn’t become a habit. Michi and Stefan completed a sovereign qualification with places 15 and 6 – a qualification that made you want more. The next day, Michl and Kraftl put on a cool flight show at Bergisel and at the end of the day they were rewarded with top positions 8 and 9. With two top ten results and a lot of good feeling, they left Innsbruck for the grand finale of the tour, the “home finale“, In Bischofshofen.

The Paul – Ausserleitner – Schanze – one of Michi and Krafti’s favorite hills – was once again the venue for the final of this tournament. A final that promised a top-class flight show right after and already during qualification. Fantastic conditions and fantastic placements for Michi and Stefan in the quali -> with places 4 and 7 they went to the quarters and the anticipation for the last main competition and the tour finals was more than great. The anticipation should turn into emotion and joy about what had been achieved the next day and Michi and Stefan were right in the middle of this flight spectacle on that day. Both showed great jumps and in the end Stefan flew very thinly past the podium with 4th place and Michi crowned cool and constant performances in Innsbruck and Bischofshofen with 6th place.

At the end of this 69th Four Hills Tournament there are ups and downs for Michi and Stefan, cool jumps, difficult challenges and with Kamil Stoch a more than deserved winner. The Pole put his own personal stamp on this 69th tour with a lot of routine and class and “King Kamil” can now call three golden eagles his own.

With this kind of “updraft”, Michi and Stefan are now going on with the season and on the ski jumping hills of the world. A very special, and unique tour was not lacking in myth and certainly not in spectacle and top performances this year. The only thing missing were the thousands of raging fans, who transform every stadium into a cauldron in their own way and, last but not least, give the athletes special goose bumps.

The anticipation is therefore huge, for an upcoming tour with its fans, colors, highlights and icons of ski jumping.