After two smooth competitions in Oberstdorf and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, the third leg of the 65th 4-Hills-Tournament in Innsbruck was turbulent. Constantly changing winds made the competition difficult for everyone involved and a certain amount of luck was definitely required in order to be successful. It took almost two hours to complete the first round and Norway's Daniel Andre Tande was the lucky and well-deserved winner. Tande's teammate Robert Johansson and Russia's Evgeniy Klimov came in second and third.
Norway's Robert Johansson was in the lead for quite some time. Under perfect conditions, the 26-year-old showed the longest jump of the day of 133 m (123.1 points). But then Tande jumped on 128.5 m and took the top spot after the first round with his total of 125.7 points. Due to the difficult conditions and the lack of daylight, the jury then decided to cancel the final shortly after the first round was completed and so the results became official.
"This was a really tough day for the jury, the conditions were extremely difficult. I made the best out of my jump and of course I was also lucky with the conditions. On a day like today you can't win without the luck. I was hoping for a second round with equal conditions for all the jumpers, but Ski Jumping is an outdoor sport and so you have to live with what you get, you can't chose the conditions you want", Tande explained his point of view after the competition.
Second-placed Robert Johansson had a similar opinion. "Conditions like today make it difficult. You never know what to expect after the take-off. You have to adjust to the conditions immediately and then do your best. You just have to take the chance. The ones who do, will get the reward", said Johansson, for whom this second place was a career-best.
Podium finish for Russia
For the Russian team, the third place of Evgeniy Klimov was the first podium result since January 1st, 2011, when Pavel Karelin was second in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. "I will remember this day and this podium result for the rest of my life. I have been working hard and my jumps are getting better and better. But of course I also had good conditions today", said an obviously impressed Evgeniy Klimov.
Kamil Stoch fights like a lion
Poland's Kamil Stoch was actually the "Man of the Day" in Innsbruck. Stoch fell after the landing in the trial round and had to compete despite problems with his left shoulder. But still the double Olympic Champion finished fourth in this competition - amazing.
Stoch lost the overall lead in the 4-Hills-Tournament to Tande, but thanks to his great fighting spirit he is now only 1.7 points behind the Norwegian. Whether he will be albe to fight for the overall title of the 65th 4-Hills-Tournament in the final event in Bischofshofen will now depend on how serious Stoch's injury is.
The athletes definitely needed some luck in today's competition. Some of the favorites of the overall ranking had to experience that today: Austria's Stefan Kraft had a bad day not only because of the wind conditions, he also suffered from a stomach flu. Kraft finished 18th and is now third in the overall ranking of the 4-Hills-Tournament. With a total of 693.7 points, Kraft is 16.7 points behind Tande and still has a chance. The Austrian will definitely not give up the fight for the overall title.
Also the currently best German jumper lost some ground today. Markus Eisenbichler had really bad conditions and came in only 29th with a jump of 112 m. In the overall ranking he is now sixth. "I would have wished that the jury would have waited a bit longer for the top four or five athletes. From my point of view it became clear pretty early that there wouldn't be a final round. The only alternative today would have been a cancellation. They couldn't have done a much better job, they made the best out of it. Andreas Wellinger and Stephan Leyhe are getting better and better and the hill in Bischofshofen should suit Markus Eisenbichler. I think that we will see a good performance of the German team in the final in Bischofshofen", German head coach Werner Schuster said after the competition.
The day in Innsbruck already started a bit odd. First the German Ski Association (DSV) announced that Severin Freund has returned home due to an influenza infection. A little while later, it was announced that Austria's Michael Hayboeck, the opponent of Freund in the K.O. round, will not be able to compete due to a stomach flu. So there were only 24 instead of the usual 25 pairs in the first round and for the first time in the history of the 4-Hills-Tournament 6 lucky loser would have been qualified for the final - that didn't take place.
The 4-Hills-Tournament continues already tomorrow with the training and the qualification in Bischofshofen.