Ski jumper made grand comeback

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UPDATED: Norwegian ski jumper Anders Jacobsen logged the happiest of New Years when he won his second victory during the prestigious German-Austrian Hoppuka (Four Hills Tournament) in Garmisch-Partenkirchen last week. He ended up placing second overall but his performance marked a major comeback, after Jacobsen took a break from jumping last year to work as a sports commentator.

Anders Jacobsen howled with delight after winning the prestigious ski jumping competition on New Year's Day. His coach Alexander Stöckl (center) was nearly speechless, while teammate Anders Bardal was thrilled as well and placed third himself. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

Anders Jacobsen howled with delight after winning the prestigious ski jumping competition on New Year’s Day. His coach Alexander Stöckl (center) was nearly speechless, while teammate Anders Bardal was thrilled as well and placed third himself. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

Jacobsen and his arch rival but good friend Gregor Schlierenzauer of Austria dominated the entire tournament. When it ended on Sunday, Schlierenzauer topped the winners’ platform with 1,100.2 points, ahead of Jacobsen’s 1,087.2. Another Norwegian was on the platform as well, with Tom Hilde in third place with 1,029.2 points.

Jacobsen wasn’t as elated as he’d been last week but claimed he was “really satisfied” with his comeback and he congratulated Schlierenzauer. He also was impressed by the entire Norwegian team. “We’ve been the best team and that means a lot, too,” Jacobsen told reporters.

He had called his second winning jump in a row last week “huge” on January 1, adding that it made him “want to cry,” he was so happy. After his first jump of 131 meters, Jacobsen, age 27, was listed in ninth place. He ended up impressing the crowd with his second jump of 143 meters, which nobody could match.

Jacobsen also won the first of four competitions in Oberstdorf last Sunday, on December 30. He last became the overall competition winner in 2006/2007, and is also the last Norwegian to win it.

Jacobsen admitted he was amazed by his own performance. “I’m actually impressed with myself today. It is amazing how much energy lives in this little boy – or I guess I’m a man now,” he told TV2.

He said he lost his balance during the first jump and was very frustrated. “When it happened, I thought I just have to straighten it out and turn my nose downwards,” he said. “I could tell while in the air that I would win a place on the podium if I could make the landing.”

Jacobsen said he was impressed with his own performance after he jumped into the lead of the year's most prestigious event. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

Jacobsen was impressed with his own performance after he jumped into the lead of the year’s most prestigious event. PHOTO: NRK screen grab/newsinenglish.no

The coach for the Norwegian team, Alexander Stöckl, was initially at a loss for words and could be seen wiping away a tear or two of joy as well. “This is one of my biggest days ever as a coach,” he told TV2 last week. “The mistake after his first jump was quite serious and any other person would have dropped further on the list. That he still kept flying after that is unbelievable.”

“Nobody can beat Anders when he’s at his best,” said the coach, but media commentators were giving Stöckl credit as well, for reviving the entire Norwegian ski jumping team. Jacobsen hasn’t been the only Norwegian jumper doing well this week, with Anders Bardal coming in third on Tuesday with 267.2 points. That resulted in two Norwegians on the podium for the first time in history, a feat repeated when Hilde could climb up on the podium along with Jacobsen when it was all over on January 6.

Jacobsen, who hails from Hønefoss, made his debut in 2006/2007 and won four World Cup events that season, including the Innsbruck event in January 2007 after which he became the overall winner. He later went into a bit of a slump, and his comeback has ignited ski jumping in Norway.

Clas Brede Bråthen, sports chief for the Norwegian team, called Tuesday “one of the greatest days in Norwegian ski jumping history.” Only the Olympics in 2006, when Norwegians won gold and bronze, was bigger, Bråthen claimed, not least because of the popularity and prestige of Hoppuka.

The Four Hills Tournament is composed of four Ski Jumping World Cup events and has taken place in Germany and Austria since 1952. The Four Hills Tournament champion is the one who gets the most points over the four events. Unlike the World Cup ranking, however, the actual points scored during the competitions are used to crown the winner. The four individual events are part of the World Cup and award points towards the World Cup in the same manner as other world cup events.

Views and News from Norway/Aasa Christine Stoltz
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