All eight World Cup winners of the current ski jumping season hail from Austria or Germany. This is even more evident when looking at the podium places: only three times has a ski jumper not from the two countries hosting the Four Mountains been on the podium. One thing is certain before the start of the 72nd tour: the Austro-German rivalry that has been going on for years or almost decades will be given new life.
Lately that has stopped. Stefan Kroft is in top form at the moment and the German side will be hoping to take part in the overall win for the first time since Sven Hannawald (2002). Martin Schmidt, multiple World Cup winner, world champion and now expert and co-commentator at Eurosport, thinks Stefan Kroft is the most important person to win. “He's in crazy form. He's always had problems in Garmisch and that will be a challenge for him again, but in this form he's measuring everything.”Kraft has five wins this season, with German duo Carl Geiger and Pius Baske two and one respectively. Schmidt says the reruns can only be good for the tour: “The stadiums will be full.”
The rivalry between Austria and Germany was more explosive in the past than it is now, Schmidt says. “It has already declined in my time. In the past, when ski jumpers in Innsbruck still had to go up to the jump in front of spectators, there was more contact with the fans, so you had to ask for something quickly. ”He also had to ask something here. there. “I fought Andy Wittholz in 1999/2000 and he won. There was nothing between us, all was fair. But there were words I had to hear before. I still have to hear them today,” laughs Schmidt.
Schmidt ended his career in 2014, in the middle of a time when Austria had a solid ticket to overall victory. At the beginning of this series, in 2008/2009, Wolfgang Loitzl “a surprise, he got into shape with a dress rehearsal in Engelberg. It created something; There is nothing special about winning the Tour in the end. It was their event. It was a wonderful era.”
Schmidt: “You need a flow where a lot of things sort themselves out.”
Schmidt has two third-place finishes (2000 and 2001) as his best Tour finishes. To win the biggest, most publicized ski jumping competition, you need “extraordinary form. You need a run in which a lot of things will sort themselves out. Stephen Croft had that earlier this season.” Who are his favorites? “The overall World Cup doesn't lie,” says Schmidt – Kraft is ahead of Andreas Wellinger and Carl Geiger. “But there are always surprises on tour.”