Led by Andreas Wellinger, the German ski jumpers are already arousing great anticipation for the Four Hills Tournament at the beginning of December. The Olympic champion from Pyeongchang made it onto the podium twice in Lillehammer and is currently leading a strong World Cup team with consistently strong performances.

“I’m at a really good level, so it’s just fun. I did a lot of things right in the summer,” said Wellinger. The 28-year-old took second place twice and even got off to a better start than he did in the 2017/18 Olympic gold season. “We are very happy with the weekend,” said national coach Stefan Horngacher.

The Austrian Stefan Kraft is particularly strong at the moment, having had an absolute dream start to the winter with four wins from four competitions. “This is a magical place for me. It’s a lot of fun right now, no matter how cold it is,” said Kraft after the jumpers had to deal with temperatures of around minus 15 degrees for the entire weekend.

Kraft passes Whitefly

Kraft secured his World Cup victories 33 and 34 in the 1994 Olympic venue, passing German icon Jens Weißflog (33). Given his excellent form, Kraft could catch up with Janne Ahonen (36) as early as next week in Klingenthal. “Flying is certainly my greatest strength,” Kraft told ZDF. A six-week trip around the world in the summer was inspiring for him.

The situation is quite delicate for the German team: Coach Horngacher’s team surprisingly has four athletes who can make it to the podium. But the victories currently seem to be awarded even before the competition begins. “Second place behind Kraft, more is not possible at the moment. I am very satisfied,” said head coach Horngacher soberly. In Lillehammer we jumped once on the normal hill and once on the large hill. Kraft dominated both days.

Geiger was also strong with two fourth places

Behind Wellinger, Pius Paschke, Karl Geiger and Stephan Leyhe are also part of the extended world elite. Geiger achieved two fourth places in Norway. “It was entirely positive. I’m super happy. It was really fun. It was icy cold, but a very positive day for me,” said the Allgäu native. Geiger seems to have solved the technical problems from the opening weekend in Ruka and is now one of the closest elite. Paschke and Leyhe also each achieved a podium finish in this short winter.

Before the Four Hills Tournament starting in Oberstdorf (December 29th) there are two more World Cup weekends. The German home game in Klingenthal will take place next week, followed by the traditional dress rehearsal in Engelberg, Switzerland. Time is becoming increasingly scarce for former world champion Markus Eisenbichler, who has not yet been part of the World Cup squad. Wellinger, Leyhe, Geiger and Paschke should be ready for the tour. Philipp Raimund and especially Martin Hamann showed weaknesses this weekend and could be shaky candidates.