Thu, Dec 31, 2009 - Page 18 News List

Kofler wins first leg of Four Hills

STRUGGLING Swiss star Simon Ammann, a double Olympic gold medal winner in 2002, appears to be jinxed in the Four Hills ski jump tournament

AFP , OBERSTDORF, GERMANY

Austria’s Andreas Kofler jumps during training for the men’s Four Hills ski jumping tournament in Oberstdorf, Germany, on Tuesday.

PHOTO: AFP

Austria’s Olympic silver medalist Andreas Kofler won the opening leg of the Four Hills ski jump event on Tuesday on home snow at Oberstdorf.

Kofler garnered 265.2 points from jumps of 125m and 134m to see off Janne Ahonen of Finland, a five-time competition winner who was returning to the circuit at the age of 32 after 18 months away from the circuit following an initial decision to retire.

Ahonen’s form suggests that he can still harbor real hopes of landing an elusive gold medal at the Vancouver Games in February.

On Tuesday, he scored 253.3 points off leaps of 116.5m and 137m.

Thomas Morgenstern of Austria jumped 124.5m and 126.5m to take third place with 250.3 points and edge defending champion and compatriot Wolfgang Loitzl off the podium.

Loitzl could manage no more than 245.4 points after twice jumping 124m.

Nonetheless, he still managed to acquit himself better than Swiss star Simon Ammann, as the current leader of the season standings and double Olympic gold medal winner in 2002 could only place fifth with 236.6 points.

Ammann appears to be jinxed in the Four Hills. Last year he failed in his ambition to become the first Swiss to win the event, a disappointing eighth place in the third round at Innsbruck ending his hopes.

Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer, the defending World Cup ­champion, failed to scale the heights as the 19-year-old could only come in ninth with 228.8 points having only managed jumps of 118m and 123m.

Another Austrian, Lukas Mueller, Slovenia’s Jernej Damjan and Poland’s Adam Malysz all managed to best Schlierenzauer, who stands second in the World Cup standings to Ammann with Kofler third.

The next Four Hills challenge comes on New Year’s Day at ­Garmisch-Partenkirchen in Germany, before an event at Innsbruck on Sunday and the fourth leg of the quartet at Bischofshofen on Jan. 6.

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