“I want to relax and make a cozy – go to the sauna,” said the currently best German ski jumper, who had catapulted at the Four Hills Tournament with force in the focus of the public and in the end only the superior Japanese quadruple triumphant Ryoyu Kobayashi had beaten. Instead of permanent travel stress and interview marathons, he says: “Being together with the family and the family.” However, Eisenbichler does not have much time for that.
Until the end of the season on March 23, the leap calendar is packed – including highlights such as the World Championships in Seefeld, but also the home competitions in Oberstdorf and Willingen. Ever since the strong performances on the tour, “Eisei” and the overall third Stephan Leyhe can no longer hide behind the big names Andreas Wellinger or Richard Freitag. The two are suddenly even the sought-after men and the hopefuls in the DSV team, in which the balance of power have reversed this winter.
Instead of the weakening former guarantor of success, which includes not only Olympic champion Wellinger and Friday but also the long-injured Severin friend, the two 27-year-olds are currently in the lead. “They often had to queue up,” said national coach Werner Schuster. “It’s a great success for both jumpers.” The big triumph did not take place because 22-year-old Kobayashi could not be beaten on all four touring hills.
The 49-year-old shoemaker is sporty in an enviable situation: his DSV-eagles demonstrate team unity and push each other. “This is not a competition, but more a togetherness,” said Eisenbichler. Leyhe emphasized: “We can push each other up.”
Because Eisenbichler, Leyhe and in between also Engelberg winner Karl Geiger deliver strong results, the pressure of success is not so heavy on Wellinger and Friday. “We have a great substance in our team,” said Schuster. Three athletes in the top ten of the World Cup standings prove him right. Wellinger and Freitag could do so well, but would have to invest a lot. “Things have been properly analyzed, they have to roll up their sleeves,” said Schuster, who has seen a small upward trend over the past few days, especially on Friday.
“He feels slowly again how it can go,” said the coach. He sounds confident: “A little time is left to stabilize the shape.” Wellinger, who retired in Oberstdorf and the New Year’s event in Garmisch-Partenkirchen after the first round, had to “bake smaller rolls”. The crisis of form seems to be the last often helpless-looking 23-year-old as well as friend who is looking for a way out of the low in the second-rate Continental Cup to sit tight. For Wellinger is currently every top-15 place a success, said Schuster.
Like Eisenbichler, the coach is looking forward to a few hours with his family after the tour stress. But he can not really go on vacation. “It’s not like I could go to the Caribbean for two days,” he said with a grin on his face. “That does not work out.”
Already with the World Cup this coming weekend in Predazzo, Italy, the DSV hunt begins on high-flyer Kobayashi, who is already almost unassailable in the overall World Cup. Even the World Championships in Seefeld in Tyrol starting on 19 February is not so far away. “We want to make a medal again at the next big highlight,” said Schuster. Whether then Eisenbichler, Leyhe or yet another of his eagles may cheer, he will be relatively no matter.