Ammann starts Four Hills title bid with victory in opener

Ammann starts Four Hills title bid with victory in openerOberstdorf, Germany  - Simon Ammann drew first blood for Switzerland at the Four Hills Tour on Monday when he edged Austrian Wolfgang Loitzl for victory in the opener of the famous ski-jumping series.

The World Cup leader Ammann soared 136.5 metres in the first round and added 134m in the second for a winning total of 286.4 points.

It was the fifth season win and eighth overall for the double Olympic champion from 2002 and 2007 world champion.

Loitzl missed his first career World Cup win by a fraction of 1.2 points with 285.2 points from 135m and 134m, having to settle for second the fourth time this season. Russia's Dimitry Vassiliev was third on the podium with 284.4 points from 134.5m and 136m.

"I didn't have the great competition I had hoped for but luckily things worked out in the end," said Ammann.

The 27-year-old is bidding to become the first Swiss to win the Four Hills Tour in the 57th edition of the event. He is the first man from his country to win in Oberstdorf and got only the fourth Swiss stage win at the Tour overall.

But it is still a long way to the Four Hills title with the competitions in Garmisch-Partenkirchen on January 1, Innsbruck on January 4 and Bischofshofen on January 6 still to come.

The top three are just separated by two points and fourth-placed Austrian Gregor Schlierenzauer is also in striking distance with 280.1 points from a fourth-place finish ahead of German dark horse Martin Schmitt (273.8).

By winning, Ammann stretched his World Cup lead with 685 points from eight events. Schlierenzauer has 560 and Loitzl 439. (dpa)