Get to know: Four Hills Tournament

Four Hills Tournament – sometimes called ‘Grand Slam or Tour de France equivalent’ – is for sure one of the most emotional moments during every season of the ski jumping period. No matter how many important events can be organized between November and March, the fight for the Golden Eagle is important not only for fans at the hill but also for the athletes, for who this prize is not only an additional sum of money on their private accounts but also a certain place in the history of ski jumping. As in the case of all great international events, there are some curiosities, which can be known only by the really involved fans. Today, only a few days before the qualification in Oberstdorf, we will try to present the most important facts about the greatest and the most accepted tournament in ski jumping world.

So, do you know…

…that the only winner of all four competitions in a row is from Germany?
Richard Freitag will start the competition in Oberstdorf this season as the leader of overall standing of the World Cup and there is not only the pressure of having a “yellow BIB” on him but also historical pressure. The only winner of all four competitions during the Four Hills Tournament in one season was a Germany representative. Sven Hannawald was the only athlete to achieve the “Grand Slam” in the season 2001/2002 and since this season nobody was able to repeat this success. He achieved a total of 1077.6 points and his advantage over second Matti Hautamaeki from Finland was equal to 56.6 points.

…that there is one athlete who won the Four Hills Tournament five times?
It is not really easy to win the same tournament more than once. Sometimes it is achievable, but every year there are new athletes ready to fight for the Golden Eagle. In the history of ski jumping, there was one ski jumper, who was able to repeat this victory five times! Janne Ahonen, the legend from Finland, stood on the top of the podium of the overall standing of the Four Hills Tournament in 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006 and 2008. He was also the last ski jumper, who won the final prize of this event without winning even one single competition (in the season 1998/1999).

…that the Austrians won the Tournament seven times in a row?
There was a time in ski jumping history, where only one nation dominated the Four Hills Tournament at the end. The Austrians were able to reach the Golden Eagle seven times and by that, they signed themselves in the world history. The masters of the tournament were successively Wolfgang Loitzl (2009), Andreas Kofler (2010), Thomas Morgenstern (2011), Gregor Schlierenzauer (2012 and 2013), Thomas Diethart (2014) and Stefan Kraft (2015). This success story was interrupted by Peter Prevc in the season 2015/16. Also this year it will be hard for the Austrian team to take the Golden Eagle back to Austria with a strong German team fighting for it as well.

…that there are two people who have won the same number of individual competitions during the Four Hills Tournament?
The Four Hills Tournament is the event with the unchangeable rules for years. That’s why it is possible to compare the achievements of ski jumpers from different decades. Although both of them are not jumping anymore, the highest number of victories in individual competitions are on accounts of Jens Weissflog and Bjoern Wirkola. They were able to win ten times during their careers and participation at the Four Hills Tournament. The closest to reach the same result have been Janne Ahonen and Gregor Schlierenzauer: Both of them won nine times.

…that there was a season with two winners of the Four Hills Tournament?
In the season 2005/2006, there was an unusual situation, which never happened again. The fight between Janne Ahonen and Jakub Janda was very fierce and the final result depended on the final competition in Bischofshofen. After the last jumps, even the ski jumpers didn’t know who will finally win, because the judges counted their score longer than they do normally. The atmosphere was really thrilling but after some time it was announced that both athletes achieved the same score. Both of them won the tournament this year and it was the only time during history that this happened.

…that there are more interesting facts about the Four Hills Tournament?

  • The biggest points advantage over the second placed was achieved by Adam Malysz in the season 2000/2001 during the 49th Four Hills Tournament. The advantage was 104.4 points, which is similar to about 58 meters on the hill. During the same tournament, the Polish athlete won every qualification before each of the four competitions and as a first ski jumper in history, he achieved, in general, more than 1000 points (1045.9 points).
  • Only two times in the history of Four Hills Tournament the competitions were cancelled. The first time was on 4th January 2008 in Innsbruck. Instead, the additional competition in Bischofshofen was organized the next day. The other time was on 28th December 2014 in Oberstdorf, where the competition was rescheduled for the next day due to the strong wind conditions.
  • In 1966 Stanisław Marusarz was invited for the opening of the competition in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. It would be nothing unusual if he would have been an active ski jumper. Instead, he was already retired for nine years and at this moment he was 53. This decision was really problematic for the judges. He borrowed shoes and skies from another ski jumper, but he was jumping in a suit and tie. He jumped 66 meters and at the outrun, he was carried on Bjoern Wirkola’s shoulders. The event was so interesting for the audience, so the organization team of the competition in Innsbruck invited Marusarz as well. He repeated his ‘show’ and jumped about 70 meters.

This year’s Four Hills Tournament will start in Oberstdorf with the qualification at 29th December.

Picture: Newsskijumping

Marta Wawrzyniak

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