away While the Norwegian Halvor Egner Granerud first raised the golden eagle in the sky of Bischofshofen and then happily struggled for words, Karl Geiger said into the ZDF microphone: “I’m looking forward to the five days at home, the oven is slowly going out. There were a lot of unpleasant things.” There was nothing to gloss over on this last day of the Four Hills Tournament. “We started well and then couldn’t keep up at all,” admitted national coach Stefan Horngacher. “That’s very disappointing.”
For the German team, this Four Hills Tournament was an event to forget. Since Andreas Wellinger, as the best German, fell out of the top ten in the overall standings and ended up eleventh, the record was worse than it had been in twelve years. Although the team hadn’t started the tour so weakly in terms of the World Cup rankings for a long time, they hadn’t expected such a disappointment. On the contrary. But after a surprisingly strong start, the Germans became minor actors. The best flew in a different league.
Above all Granerud, who won three of the four competitions (except in Innsbruck) and with his triumph ended the 16-year dry spell of the Norwegian tour. The Pole Dawid Kubacki took second place in the overall standings. The podium was completed by the Slovenian Anze Lanisek, who finished second ahead of Kubacki in the daily standings.
As before at Bergisel, the best German was youngster Philipp Raimund (22) in twelfth place. Wellinger, who was still convincing at the first two stages of the tour and was clearly on the up, ended up in 20th place, Karl Geiger was 23rd. As in the two competitions in Germany, Markus Eisenbichler missed the second round. For the overall classification, this means: Raimund, who had not previously been a permanent member of the World Cup team, is the 13th second best of the team. Geiger, who experienced a debacle in Innsbruck after starting fourth and eleventh and failed to qualify, is 22nd. Constantin Schmid is ahead of him in 17th place.
Sven Hannwald had guessed it. The former ski jumping hero, who was the last German to win the Four Hills Tournament in 2002, said in the WELT interview before the start of the tour: “The Germans currently do not have this basis from which they could say: ‘There are the favorites, they We’re under pressure – we’ll step it up a notch and then hit it.’” But: He hadn’t expected such a result either. He said cautiously optimistically: “If someone ended up on the podium, I would be super happy.” But he wasn’t really convinced of that. The performances in the previous season were too weak and too mixed. Only Geiger had gotten a podium place in third place, had started the tour in seventh place in the overall World Cup – the only one in the top ten. Hannawald’s hope that the athletes would teach him otherwise was not fulfilled.
The Germans, especially national coach Stefan Horngacher, had practiced optimism. What was left for them? The motto seemed to be to speak up to the athletes. In the end, however, Raimund remains the only real ray of hope. In Bischofshofen, too, he had reason to celebrate again and cried out his joy.
Andreas Wellinger can at least ALSO take something positive with him. The 2018 Olympic champion has been fighting to return to the top since tearing his cruciate ligament in the summer of 2019. A long, draining road, repeatedly interrupted by injuries. He was more than satisfied with sixth and eighth place in Oberstdorf and Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Innsbruck was a setback. In Bischofshofen he was weakened by a gastrointestinal infection.
Overall, however, frustration clearly predominates in the German team. Also a material problem? Eisenbichler shakes his head. “It’s not the bond or anything. It’s just your own ability,” he said on ZDF.
For Horngacher, who celebrated great successes with the Polish team, it is the most difficult phase at the German Ski Association three and a half years after taking office. In addition, there is not much time left until the World Championships in Planica (Slovenia), which begin on February 21. Things can often happen quickly in ski jumping, even tiny things can cause the flight system to collapse or make it viable again. But the base that Hannawald spoke of before the tour is still not strong and stable enough for it to be a matter of days.
“It’s the most bitter thing since I’ve been a coach. We’ve always done well on tour and throughout the season over the past three years. Now we have a bit of a low,” Horngacher stated. You could always rely on Geiger. In more than 100 competitions, he had not failed in the qualification.
The Germans are not lacking in team unity, but Eisenbichler describes the atmosphere in the team as “crappy”. Although the Germans had failed in all the years before their dream of winning the tour, an athlete from the team has been on the podium in the overall classification five times since 2016. After all, they only just missed out last winter with fourth and fifth place. And don’t forget the medals at World Championships and Olympic Games. But now the prospects are bleak.