In all significant sport disciplines there is a particular tournament in which every sportsman in the world would be honored to take part in someday. There are World Cups for footballers and volleyball players and many other sports men, but ski jumpers have their Four Hills Tournament.
61st Four Hills Tournament
This tournament, because of its prestige, is sometimes called ‘Grand Slam’. Winning this tournament is said to be the biggest success a ski jumper can achieve. There has been only one contestant, who won 1st place in all four competitions included in this tournament – Sven Hannawald in season 2001/02.
The original idea of Four Hills Tournament was born in Germany in 1949, when German contestants got re-allowed to take part in international competitions. The plan came into life in 1953 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen (Ga-Pa), which is a city with rich ski jump history, and Innsbruck (Austria). Later, parts of the tournament were organized in Oberstdorf and Bischofshofen as well. Nowadays, all the jumps in Ga-Pa take place on January 1st.
Teoretically the way to win this tournament is not complicated – a competitor has to gain as many points as possible at all stages. Since season 1996/97, the KO system has been introduced. As a result, in the first turn contestants from opposite sides of the table compete with each other (1st with 50th, 2nd with 49th) and in the second one 25 winners and 5 so-called ‘lucky losers’ compete normally. The only Polish ski jumper that manage to win this tournament was Adam Małysz in 2001.
This season the 61st Four Hills Tournament will take place. As for now, the strongest favourite seems to be Gregor Schlierenzauer, who won last-year edition of this tournament and is now a the very top of World Cup rating. Furthermore, Andreas Kofler, who was season 2009/10 winner, and Severin Freund, the 2012/13 World Cup classification runner-up, are the names that are mentioned by specialists most often. A lot of hope is also put in Kamil Stoch, who was the runner-up of the last tournament in Engelberg. Although he is not said to win, his talent is clear and may bear fruit in the next couple of years.