Innsbruck: The duel between Wellinger and Kobayashi is becoming more and more dramatic

As of: January 3, 2024 2:40 p.m

In Innsbruck, the third stop of the Four Hills Tournament, many a German tour dream has been shattered – Andreas Wellinger’s lives on. After the first round on Bergisel, Wellinger had to give up the lead in the overall standings to Ryoyu Kobayashi, but the gap is small.

Andreas Wellinger couldn’t cope with either the qualification or the rehearsal on the Bergisel, so the 28-year-old didn’t get nervous. With the necessary amount of looseness, the fastest approach speed (90.4 km/h) and luck with the wind, the Traunstein native let it rip in the first round on Wednesday (January 3rd, 2024).

Kobayashi counters after Wellinger’s template

Wellinger put up a strong 132 meters, which wasn’t enough to take the lead, but was enough to put pressure on the Japanese Ryoyu Kobayashi. Wellinger’s biggest rival in the battle for overall victory crossed the Bakken almost 30 minutes later. He had to counterattack to stay in business – and delivered 128.5 meters on a shorter run-up.

This meant that Kobayashi moved past Wellinger – also in the overall standings, but by a meager 0.7 points. In contrast, Stefan Kraft experienced a setback in the fight for overall victory and lost 123 meters of ground. He fell to fourth place – 33 points behind Kobayashi.

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Hörl leads after the first round

National coach Stefan Horngacher praised his high-flyer Wellinger with the usual restraint: “The jump was okay, but not quite perfect. He stayed on track and is fully involved. That suits me“, he said on ZDF. Horngacher will no longer intervene much: “There are only small corrections, then I wish you good luck and he has to do the rest himself.”

Local hero Jan Hörl is in the lead after the first round with 134 meters, but in third place in the overall standings he is already a clear 22.5 points behind. Hörl leads ahead of Lovro Kos from Slovenia (135 m) and Kobayashi (128.5 m). Wellinger is fifth.

Ryoyu Kobayashi touches down at 128.5 meters in the first round.

Raimund wins German duel

Wellinger not only kept his dream of winning the tour alive, but also kept the German flag high. The second best German at halftime is Philipp Raimund in 18th place. He narrowly won the German duel with 127.5 meters against Stephan Leyhe (124.5 meters) and qualified directly for the final in good wind conditions. Leyhe still had to tremble, but in the end he qualified via the Lucky Losers and was satisfied with 21st place: “It was solid and it’s much better to jump than yesterday.”

Geiger continues with luck, Paschke out

Karl Geiger’s downward spiral, however, also continued in Innsbruck. The violinist, who started as one of the favorites after strong performances in advance, landed at 120.5 meters and had to worry about advancing in his duel against Maciej Kot from Poland. Because the Pole jumped three meters shorter, Geiger at least got a second chance, a good result was 26 at halftime. but already gone.

Karl Geiger cannot fly on Bergisel.

Pius Paschke was granted a second round. A few weeks ago, he was still a happy World Cup winner, but the 33-year-old experienced a drama on Bergisel with only 114 meters and was eliminated.

Innsbruck – the Destiny’s Lair

Innsbruck has been associated with severe German defeats for years. Martin Schmitt 1999, Severin Freund 2016, Richard Freitag 2018, Karl Geiger 2021 – they all had to bury their touring dreams on the ski jump with the exposed view of the Innsbruck cemetery. But there were also moments of happiness – the victories of Sven Hannawald in 2002 or Richard Freitag in 2015, for example. This year, Wellinger is only one step away from continuing the success story.

Four Hills Tournament: Last stop Bischofshofen

However, the decision is not yet made in Innsbruck, but at the last stop of the tour in Bischofshofen (Saturday, January 6th, 2024, from 4:15 p.m. in the live ticker and live on Erste).

However, the result in Innsbruck could at least be statistically decisive. Since the 1998/99 tour, 23 of the 25 overall leaders were also ahead in the final rankings after the third competition. Only the Norwegian Daniel Andre Tande, the Japanese Kazuyoshi Funaki (1994/95) and Noriaki Kasai (1998/99) gave up their lead in the last competition.