62nd 4-Hills Tournament Ahead - Best-to-Beat 2.0
Premiere in Oberstdorf: For the first time ever in the ski jumping World Cup, the so-called Best-to-beat laser line will be implemented at the opening event of the 62nd 4-Hills-Tournament (Dec. 28th and 29th). The virtual colored laser line will be projected across the landing area and visually indicates to the spectators in the stadium how far an athletes has to jump to take the lead. So far this virtual line was only shown on TV, but not live in the ski jumping arenas.
"The Best-to-beat-line became an indispensable aid for TV commentators and viewers. I'm very happy, that we are now able to bring this directly to the hill in the form of a laser line, so the fans in the stadium can benefit from it as well", says Walter Hofer, race director of the International Ski Federation, FIS.
It's not a coincidence that this new technology premieres in Oberstdorf. Already three years ago, Oberstdorf was the first venue to implement the precursor of the laser line, the Best-to-beat-LED-boards. Back then an LED lit up on the left side of the landing area to indicate the distance to reach.
"This laser line now clearly is a further development of this technology, it is Best-to-beat 2.0 so to speak. It's great, that the FIS brought as in as their partner", says Stefan Huber, director of the 4-Hills-Tournament and general secretary of the opening event in Oberstdorf. Huber & Co will also present another innovation at the 62nd 4-Hills-Tournament, the LED starting bar. It will display the signal of the start light and so the complete process of the jump will be visible to the audience in the stadium.
"We are constantly trying to offer something special to the spectators in the arena. With the Best-to-beat laser line and the LED start bar we are able to further improve the service", Huber explains. Already over the past years, the organizers added additional value in the stadium. A presentation stage for interviews with the jumpers in the middle of the spectators' section and a stand at the athletes' village was built last year. "Both innovations were well received and this feedback encourages us to continue this innovative path", explains Dr. Peter Kruijer, head of the ski club Oberstdorf and the organizing committee.
The prize money is also on the rise in this season’s edition of the 4-Hills Tournament. A record CHF 315,000 will be distributed, including a new jackpot for the winner of the qualifications of € 2,000.
It is anyone’s guess who will be taking the prize money home as the season podiums to date have been distributed among several athletes.
Looking at the results so far, a staggering 14 athletes can be considered to be among the favorites.
Austrians Gregor Schlierenzauer and Thomas Morgenstern are sure to use the home crowd support in the last two events to their advantage. Although it is anyone’s guess how Morgenstern will rebound from his crash in Titisee-Neustadt.
Germany is fielding perhaps the strongest team overall with Severin Freund, Richard Freitag, Andreas Wellinger and Marinus Kraus considered contenders. At the heels of the Germans is the Japanese Nippon trio of Taku Takeuchi, Daiki Ito and Noriaki Kasai.
Poland’s Kamil Stoch and Krzysztof Biegun are also in the mix to take the prestigious 4-Hills crown along with Jurij Tepes (SLO) and Anders Bardal (NOR). A sentimental favorite in the field is Switzerland’s Simon Ammann, who has won every other major title in ski jumping, but has always found the 4-Hills to be elusive. Ammann has had a strong start to the season, but will his 4-Hills curse continue?
One thing is certain, the 4-Hills Tournament is sure to be a fantastic spectacle again this year as the jumpers look to set the tone for Sochi.