OBERSTDORF, Germany (AP) — Former champion Anders Jacobsen of Norway mastered tricky wind conditions to win the opening stage of the prestigious Four Hills ski jumping competition on Sunday.
Jacobsen collected the top points total in both jumps to win comfortably ahead of defending champion and World Cup leader Gregor Schlierenzauer of Austria. Severin Freund of Germany was third. "It's a bit like a fairytale," said Jacobsen, who won the Four Hills Tour in 2007. "Two weeks ago I was struggling to stay on top of my skis."
Jacobsen, who sat out last season, put together jumps of 138 meters and 139 meters and benefited from good tactical decisions from his coaching staff, which lowered his starting gate in the second heat, thus giving him a bigger points bonus.
He collected a total of 308.6 points and spoiled what was expected to be a showdown between the Austrians and Germans. Jacobsen earned his seventh career World Cup victory and the first since his hiatus.
Schlierenzauer, who had jumps of 134.5 meters and 138.5 meters, earned 297 points to settle for second. Freund's jumps of 138.5 meters and 135.5 meters gave him a two-jump total of 290.8 points. While the distances of jumps remain the key factor, points can be added or deducted to level out wind conditions and different runway lengths.
The 2010 tour winner Thomas Morgenstern of Austria failed to qualify for the second heat after getting hit by unfavorable wind. Another Austrian favorite, Andreas Kofler, was disqualified for wearing an irregular suit. He was bumped form his eighth-place finish.
The second stage is on Jan. 1 in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, before the tour moves to Austria.