The 67th 4-Hills-Tournament started with the qualification win of Austria's Stefan Kraft in Oberstdorf. With 138.5 m, Kraft jumped on the exact same distance as 4-Hills favorite Ryoyu Kobayashi of Japan. Piotr Zyla of Poland came in third.
15 500 spectators saw an exciting qualification with an extremely close outcome. Today's winner Kraft and Kobayashi, who seems totally unimpressed by the fact that he is the top favorite, were separated only by the tiny margin of 0.2 points.
The conditions changed a lot during the course of the qualification and so there were various short delays. Local hero Karl Geiger also had to wait about a minute before his jump, he then didn't have the best conditions, but easily qualified for the competition in 23rd. Surprisingly, David Siegel was the best German in seventh. 12 of the 13 German athletes qualified for the competition.
For some well-known athletes the overall ranking of the 4-Hills-Tournament is already history before it even started: Domen Prevc, Noriaki Kasai and Norway's Halvor Egner Granerud failed to make the cut for the competition, which starts on Sunday at 4:30 pm CET.
Martti Nomme of Estonia crashed in training and did not take part in the qualification.
Here's what the athletes said about the qualification in Oberstdorf:
Stefan Kraft (winner): When you see that you are first that gives you self-confidence. I’m very happy about this jump because it shows me that I can be among the best. My two training jumps were not good, we watched them on video and then I just tried to do everything differently.
Simon Ammann (25th): I would have wanted to jump a little farther, but I was too low over the know. I will analyze that, but when I can easily qualify and show consistent jumps in training and in the qualification it makes the competition easier for me.
Severin Freund (24th): It is really nice to jump here again. The atmosphere at the 4-Hills-Tournament is just totally different from the competitions before that. It was a pretty good start for me today after the difficult weekend in Engelberg. I didn’t expect to be among the best right away. It’s about making progress and so it was a good day today.
Constantin Schmid (14th): The conditions were very cool for me today. I had a bit of headwind, that’s what ski jumpers like. The hill is perfectly prepared and it’s not raining, like last year. It’s great. It’s awesome how many people are here for the qualification.
Michael Hayboeck (20th): It was not easy. Even though I have been competing for a long time I was nervous because I didn’t have that many competitions today. But all in all, it was a very positive day. In the second training round I was in the Top 6 and now I have to show this in the competition.
Andreas Stjernen (4th): I was surprised by my jump. I started the day quite okay, the second jump was good and the third one was very good, just in time. Usually, I have been struggling with the hill here in Oberstdorf, tomorrow I just have to stay focused and try to do the same.
Robert Johansson (13th): It was a good first day for me. I did better on this hill today than in the past so I’m confident for tomorrow. I think the entire team had a nice time at home. Everyone seems motivated and we just have to keep on fighting and the results will come.
Kamil Stoch (8th): It is always nice when a lot of people are coming to watch us, we love this. I’m not completely satisfied with my jumps today, but this is good because I know that I can still do better.
Ryoyu Kobayashi (2nd): My jump was good, I’m not excited about it, but I’m satisfied. I have achieved good results so far this season, but I don’t feel under pressure because of that.
Andreas Wellinger (10th): I got closer to the best, this is a step in the right direction and I will continue to work calmly. I want to focus on what's important in my jump. It's going in the right direction. Sometimes you need some luck, that you really get to fly and then notice that it's working. It can go really fast, especially on this hill.