Jacobsen triumphs in New Year’s Jump
Ski jumper Anders Jacobsen makes a comeback, but Austria continues to dominate Four Hills Tournament
Norwegian American Weekly
For ski jumpers, the New Year isn’t a time for parties and champagne; it’s the season for the prestigious Four Hills Tournament. The best ski jumpers of the world gather on the Austro-German border at the end of each year for these four World Cup events, known as Hoppuka in Norwegian and Vierschanzentournee in German. The jumper who earns the most points throughout the four jumps wins the tournament and is awarded the highly esteemed Golden Eagle trophy.
The 63rd Four Hills Tournament began on December 26 and wrapped up on January 6 this year. Austrian Stefen Kraft won the first event at Oberstdorf and ended up with the Golden Eagle to everyone’s surprise but his own. “I always knew that I would win it eventually,” commented the 21-year-old jumper.
Although Norway once held domination in the tournament—taking home the Golden Eagle five times in the 1960s—Austria is now the leader with a winning streak of seven years.
Norway’s coach Alexander Stöckl has acknowledged his frustration over Austria’s dominance as the top ski jumping nation. “They have many jumpers who perform at a very high level. They have a fantastic system that we must learn from,” he said.
Norges Skiforbund sent seven jumpers to the tournament: Anders Bardal, Anders Fannemel, Rune Velta, Daniel-André Tande, Anders Jacobsen, Phillip Sjøen, and Johann Forfang.
Without a doubt, the top-performing Norwegian was Anders Jacobsen. Jacobsen has thrived at the Four Hills tournament before, when he won the Golden Eagle trophy in 2006/2007 and became the youngest Norwegian to ever win the event.
His 135.5-meter and 286-point jump in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on January 1 secured him the win in the second event, commonly referred to as the “New Year’s Jump.” Although this is Jacobsen’s 10th World Cup victory, it is especially significant as his first win after his cruciate ligament injury in 2013.
Jacobsen felt ecstatic after his win. “These two days have been a dream here in Garmisch-Partenkirchen. This hill is just something magic for me,” he told the German broadcaster ARD.
“Doing this New Year’s Day is magical. There are merited jumpers along with me here. This was fun. Now I have to try to rejoice this day and think about further jumping later,” commented Jacobsen to NRK.
“To come back after injury means a lot,” he continued. “Now I’ve finally proved to myself that it is possible. I had not been sure until now, despite a lot of good training.”
Following Jacobsen’s win, the German Richard Freitag won the jump at Innsbruck, and the Austrian Micheal Hayboeck took the final event at Bischofshofen.
The last event was unfortunately also marked by the dangerous crash of Swiss Simon Ammann. He suffered a serious concussion and bruises to his face and remains hospitalized as of January 7.
Andersen was the next jumper after Ammann’s crash, but did not learn of the severity of the incident until after his jump. When he asked about Ammann’s condition, he was told that he was able to walk himself, according to NRK. He later learned the truth and said, “It bothered me since he is a good friend of mine.” The Norwegian jumpers wish Ammann a quick recovery.
If the New Year’s Jump is any indication of the year to come, Jacobsen can look forward to a successful return to the sport in 2015. Maybe 2016 will bring an even stronger Norwegian performance at the Four Hills Tournament.
This article originally appeared in the Jan. 16, 2015, issue of the Norwegian American Weekly.