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Tour dreams already dead: Helpless ski jumpers attack the consolation prize

Tour dreams already dead
Helpless ski jumpers attack the consolation prize

The dream of a triumph at the Four Hills Tournament is once again over for the German ski jumping stars. Nevertheless, Karl Geiger and Co. travel to Innsbruck with great fighting spirit – and the national coach doesn’t want to be talked into disappointment.

Stefan Horngacher got a little louder for a moment and wanted to know one thing: “Our balance here is by no means negative, it’s very positive,” said the German national ski jumping coach, although his DSV-Adler once again had the chance to win the Four Hills Tournament early on had gambled away: “Our development is very good.” His star students Karl Geiger and Andreas Wellinger followed the boss’s explanations with a blank stare. None of them had any conclusive explanations as to why, 21 years after Sven Hannawald’s Grand Slam, it wasn’t enough for another big coup.

“For the fourth year in a row I’ve been able to compete for overall victory. That shows a certain consistency,” said Karl Geiger on Monday morning in the pretty team hotel on the frozen Rießersee, after finishing tenth in Garmisch-Partenkirchen the day before had lost all chances of the longed-for overall victory: “But this year I’m further away than in previous years.”

“Days like yesterday are just part of it”

One thing has remained the same since Hannawald’s coup in winter 2001/02: the euphoria is great before the start, and even greater after a mostly strong show jumping in Oberstdorf. And at the latest before the journey to the third station in Innsbruck, there is a big shrug of the shoulders. “Days like yesterday are just part of it,” said Geiger. But even Germany’s best ski jumper doesn’t know a recipe for ending this agonizing dry spell in the coming years.

And so for the overall fifth violinist and sixth Andreas Wellinger on Wednesday at Bergisel (1.30 p.m. / ARD and Eurosport) it is again about consolation prizes. “A third place overall is still possible, everything else is utopian,” said Horngacher in view of Geiger’s 32 meters behind the sovereign leader Halvor Egner Granerud – the Pole Piotr Zyla in third place is ten meters away.

“… I have nothing to lose”

Geiger doesn’t want to look at the overall standings at all, but at least annoy Granerud and Poland’s second in the overall standings, Dawid Kubacki: “The goal is that we give them a slap in the face. That we show that we’re still there.” That could work out in Innsbruck, Geiger celebrated great successes on this hill, was vice world champion in 2019 behind his teammate Markus Eisenbichler, who is now in such weak form and who is at least continuing the tour, and with him team world champion. “I’ve already bitten my teeth there, but I’ve also had good competitions,” said Geiger: “Now I’m just going there very curious – I have nothing to lose.”

After all, the Germans lost the tour. Once again. But why isn’t it enough for one of the biggest ski jumping nations that invests so much for the big goal of winning this tour again after more than two decades and above all as co-host? With one of the undisputed world’s best coaches, who twice led a Kamil Stoch, who had previously been in a deep creative crisis, to tour victory?

“It’s not because of the material,” stressed Horngacher. The project does not fail because of the potential of his jumpers either, they have won everything else, the Geigers, Wellingers, Eisenbichlers, what there is to win in sport, world champion titles, flying world championships, Olympic gold. “This year, however, it was clear that we would not be competing for victory,” said Horngacher. But he didn’t have a conclusive answer as to why this has been the case for 21 years.

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