Again like every year before Christmas the 2 last competitions before the four hills tournament went over the stage in the swiss city Engelberg.
And also 2013 Engelberg was an important indicator for the athlete's performance and subsequently also for determining the favourites for the upcoming tour.
In contrast to the past few years my assessment not really differs from the mainstream.
Absolute top-favourite this year of course is the Pole Kamil Stoch. That he can win in big events, he has proven this year with his world-champion title. And superior consistency - recently with the positions 2, 1, 2, and 1 in the last 4 competitions already has given him the lead in the overall World Cup.
Other favourites are the Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer and the Norwegian Anders Bardal.
Schlierenzauer not only has won the four-hills-tournament in the last 2 years, but already 2 World Cup competitions this season. What he is lacking this year so far is consistency.
With Bardal in turn, things are just the other way round: He at least is as constant as Kamil Stoch, however he hasn't yet won this year.
Co-favourites and outsiders
The four hills tournament is often good for a surprise, it regularly happens, that athletes win, who not even experts bargained for victory.
Personally I give credit to Swiss Simon Ammann. He runs after a tour victory already for his whole career. This year, he hasn't won so far and also isn't too constant. But he was already 2 times on the podium. And if he can retrieve his top-form right now, then he is a very hot stock.
Though it will become difficult with the overall-victory, the Austrian Wolfgang Loitzl, tournament winner 2008/2009, can make it on the tournament-podium for the 3rd time.
His form curve based from a solid level shows upwards and he is constant too.
Also candidates for a podium finish in the tour's overall-ranking are the 2 Germans Severin Freund and Andreas Wellinger. Both are in good shape, that often jump well and rarely badly.
That also applies to the Japanese Taku Takeuchi, whose potential, due to the Japanese teams absence in Engelberg, is specially difficult to estimate.
But most difficult to estimate is the performance of Thomas Morgenstern. He was in very good shape, has even won a World Cup competition - before he crashed. Anyways victory will be really difficult for him this time, but maybe he can surprise us at this four-hills.
One guy that won even 5 times and this year is again present at the tour after 2 years break - I am conviced - is not going to win: Janne Ahonen.
Nevertheless, he is an asset to the tour.
I'm doing my assessment even before qualification (in Oberstdorf) - making it more difficult and more exciting :-)
The four-hills-tournament has always been exciting and will also be this year!
(Blog entry translated from my original in German language)