Feature | Ski Jumping

All you need to know for the 2020-21 Four Hills Tournament

Norway's Halvor Egner Granerud is the man to beat in the turn-of-the-year ski jumping highlight in Germany and Austria with Polish jumpers cleared to compete.

By Ken Browne ·

The 69th Four Hills Ski Jumping Tournament sees the best jumpers in the world gather at four venues in Germany and Austria around the turn of the year.

It starts on the Schattenberg hill in Oberstdorf with the first competition proper taking place on Tuesday (29 December) as the men take in four events in nine days.

The opener usually attracts close to 40,000 spectators but, this year, the party atmosphere will be missing with no fans allowed due to the COVID pandemic.

The grand finale is in Bischofshofen, Austria on 6 January.

While part of the World Cup, this tournament also stands alone with Poland's Dawid Kubacki the reigning Four Hills champion.

There was dramatic news on Monday as the entire Polish team was barred from qualification after Klemens Muranka tested positive for COVID on Sunday.

But on Monday evening, the whole team - including Muranka - all tested negative and were cleared to compete on Tuesday.

Scroll down for everything you need to know on when, where, and who might achieve a fourth 'Grand Slam' since the tournament's birth in 1953.

When and where: Four Hills Tournament 2020-21 Dates

The four competitions will take place in:

Germany
Obertsdorf (28-29 Dec)
Garmisch-Partenkirchen (31 Dec - 1 Jan)

Austria
Innsbruck (2-3 Jan)
Bischofshofen (5-6 Jan)

Who: Four Hills Favourites

There's no doubt who the favourite is right now:

Norwegian sensation Halvor Egner Granerud is on a rare five-in-a-row World Cup winning streak and led Norway to the team title at the Ski Flying World Championships in Planica.

The 24-year-old currently sits atop the FIS World Cup standings on 600 points with Germany's Markus Eisenbichler behind him on 463, and Robert Johansson third on 244 points.

Eisenbichler will be keen to quell the Norwegian's uprising on home snow after winning the first two World Cup events in Ruka and Wisla.

READ: Five things you didn't know about Norwegian sensation Halvor Egner Granerud

But the battle for the Four Hills is far more than a two-horse race.

Granerud himself was talking down his own abilities after his fifth straight win in Engelberg telling FIS, "I don't make extremely good jumps, the jumps are stable, but they are not outstanding."

Can he handle the pressure of being the hot favourite? And who else is in the reckoning?

Karl Geiger was the last man to beat Granerud, edging out the Norwegian in Planica by just 0.5 points to win the individual ski flying world title.

New father Geiger was born in Obertsdorf but missed the two competitions in Engelberg after testing positive for COVID.

The 27-year-old has been selected by the German team with national coach Stefan Horngacher telling Frankfurter Rundschau, "Karl has been symptom-free since the positive test. He is highly motivated and has kept fit and trained during the quarantine."

Two-time Four Hills and three-time Olympic champion Kamil Stoch, who had his first individual podium finish of the season last weekend, and Piotr Zyla are expected to challenge along with Japan's talented Sato Yukiya.

Stoch is one of just three men in history to win the Four Hills Grand Slam.

Germany's Sven Hannawald was the first, weeks before winning Olympic gold at the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympic Winter Games, with Stoch repeating the feat in 2017-18.

Just 12 months later, Kobayashi Ryoyu won all four as he became just the second non-European Four Hills victor, the first being his fellow Japanese Funaki Kazuyoshi.

Kobayashi Ryoyu celebrates completing the 2018-19 Four Hills Grand Slam at Bischofshofen

1. Obertsdorf: Opening Jump

The fireworks start on the famed big Schattenberg hill at the World Cup Ski Jump Arena in Oberstdorf, and winning on Day 1 often proves crucial to the outcome of the overall tournament.

Some 2,500 tickets went on sale and were snapped up like hot cakes, but organisers have had to cancel plans to host spectators due to rising COVID case numbers.

Tickets have been refunded and fans will have to enjoy from home.

And there will be plenty to enjoy.

Kobayashi is seeking a hat-trick of wins, taking the Four Hills opener after his previous season's Grand Slam, but has failed to break into the top 10 in a lacklustre campaign so far.

Norway's Sigurd Pettersen holds the hill record of 143.5m, which he set in 2003.

2019-20 Four Hills Oberstdorf Podium (L-R): runner-up Karl Geiger, winner Ryoyu Kobayashi, third-placed Dawid Kubacki

2. Garmisch-Partenkirchen - New Year's Day Jump

Ski jumping fans will ring in the New Year at Garmisch-Partenkirchen which was built prior to the Olympic Games in 1936 and updated in 2007.

The fusion of a historic hill, award-winning architecture and the latest in cutting-edge technology make this a unique arena for ski jumping's high wire walkers.

Norway's Marius Lindvik is the defending champion having set a new hill record of 143.5 m 12 months ago.

Garmisch podium (L-R): runner-up Karl Geiger, winner Marius Lindvik, third-placed Dawid Kubacki

3. Innsbruck: Bergisel ski jump

The second half of the Four Hills begins at Bergisel ski station Innsbruck, Austria with its futuristic start tower designed by prestigious architecture firm Zaha Hadid.

Dawid Kubacki was king here last year, and went on to take the Four Hills tournament crown.

Happy memories could upset the odds and lift him to another victory here.

The hill record is 138m and held by home favourite Michael Hayboeck who made the leap in January 2015.

Dawid Kubacki of Poland, Marius Lindvik of Norway and Daniel Andre Tande of Norway celebrate during the medal ceremony of the 68th FIS Nordic World Cup Four Hills Tournament at Bergisel-Stadion Olympiaschanze on January 04, 2020 in Innsbruck, Austria. (Photo by Alexander Hassenstein/Bongarts/Getty Images)

4. Bischofshofen: Epiphany jump

The Paul-Außerleitner Ski Jump is the perfect ending to the Four Hills Tournament, a jump nestled in natural beauty at the foothill of the Hochkönig mountains.

At the end, the overall winner of the Four Hills receives the golden eagle trophy.

Kubacki is also the reigning champ in Bischofshofen with the Pole sailing out to a record-breaking 145m 12 months ago.

Dawid Kubacki celebrates overall victory in the 2019-20 Four Hills Tournament finale at Bischofshofen

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