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Morgenstern lives up to favorite billing in the Four Hills tournament

Thomas Morgenstern lived up to his top billing when he destroyed the opposition in the Four Hills tour opener. The Germans did better than many had expected in the first event, with two of them finishing in the top 10.

Thomas Morgenstern

Morgenstern is the confirmed favorite to win the Four Hills

Austria's Thomas Morgenstern lived up to his billing as the favorite at the first event of the Four Hills ski-jumping tournament in Oberstdorf on Wedensday.

Morgenstern took top honors in the opening event with jumps of 131.5 meters and 138 for a total score of 289.6 points, just of ahead of Matti Hautamaeki of Finland with 273. German ski jumpers turned in a good team performance with two jumpers, Severin Freund (258.7 points) and Michael Neumayer (254 points) finishing in the top 10 for the first event.

Morgenstern has had mixed fortunes since lifting the World Cup title in 2008 but a strong start to this season has put him among the favorites for the Four Hills crown.

He has won four straight World Cup events this winter and finished second in the 2007-08 Four Hills.

Severin Freund

Germany's Severin Freund did well in the first event

The 24-year-old three-time Olympic champion, who has spent the past two seasons in the shadow of compatriot Gregor Schlierenzauer and Swiss sensation Simon Ammann.

The second round of the annual Four-Hills is set for the Bavarian resort town of Garmisch-Partenkirchen on Saturday, before heading to Austria for the final two rounds next week

Given the different structures of the hills in Oberstdorf, Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Innsbruck (January 3) and Bischofshofen (January 6), the overall Four Hills title is widely regarded as the most difficult to achieve in ski jumping.

Author: Natalia Dannenberg (AFP, dpa)
Editor: Chuck Penfold

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