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Austrian Kraft wins first event of Four Hills Tournament

Austrian ski jumper Stefan Kraft's 308 point haul was enough for him to win the opening event of the Four Hills Tournament in Oberstdorf on Friday. Sixth-placed Markus Eisenbichler was the highest German finisher.

Kraft, who won the same event in 2014, had qualified in third on Thursday and overtook compatriot Michael Hayboeck to claim the lead with just two athletes to follow. Poland's Kamil Stoch (305.2) grabbed second but Norway's Daniel Tande, who qualified in first but ended up in fourth, wasn't able to topple Kraft either. Hayboeck took third.

Eisenbichler qulaified in sixth and, despite being fourth at one point, finished in that position, though the German was only three points off a podium finish. Further down the rankings, last year's Obertsdorf winner Severin Freund, also of Germany, could only manage a 20th place finish in front of 25,000 fans. The result means he's out of the running for World Cup victory.

The 28-year-old has been struggling with injury this year, so wasn't too disheartened. "It sounds stupid but the overall result wasn't too important to me," he said. "It was clear from the beginning that it was too early (for me)."

Slovenia's Domen Prevc, 17, who led the World Cup standings going in to the event, lost significant ground to all his rivals with a 26th place finish but remains on top.

Two big names fared even worse, with veteran Japanese skier Noriaki Kasai and two-time Obertsdorf winner Simon Ammann of Switzerland failing to even make the second round.

The next Four Hills Tournament race is in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on January 1.

mp (SID/DPA)

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