Frenzel ill but he’ll try for 2nd Olympic gold
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — Eric Frenzel has seven wins in 11 starts on the Nordic combined World Cup circuit this season, and backed that up with a gold medal in the normal hill last week at the Sochi Olympics.
On Tuesday, still suffering the side effects from a virus, he decided at the last minute to try for two in a row by competing in the large hill final.
The 25-year-old German had a virus and fever and was rated by team officials on Monday as only a 50-50 chance of competing. But team spokesman Christian Klaue told The Associated Press early Tuesday that Frenzel would take his place on the ski hill to start the competition later in the day.
Here are five things to know about Tuesday’s large hill individual final in Nordic combined — a single jump off the large hill, followed by a 10-kilometer cross-country ski race:
SPREADING THE GOLD: An individual large hill event has been held five times at the Winter Games and has been won by athletes from five countries — France (1992), Norway (1994), Finland (2002), Austria (2006) and the United States (2010).
GUNDERSEN REIGNS: Like the normal hill, the large hill uses the Gundersen method, named after former Norwegian Nordic combined star Gunder Gundersen and which was first used in the 1980s. The top finisher in the ski jumping starts alone on the cross-country race — four loops of a 2.5-kilometer track at Sochi — and the rest of the field begins its pursuit in staggered starts depending on jumping placings.
NORMAL HILL REPLAY: In the normal hill competition held last week, Frenzel led after the ski jumping phase, giving him a six-second head start over Akito Watabe of Japan. Frenzel had a 4.2-second advantage at the end, speeding away from Watabe, who won silver, in the final 500 meters. Magnus Krog of Norway, a cross-country specialist who moved up from 20th place after the ski jumping, earned the bronze.
CAN AMERICANS REPEAT?: Americans finished one-two in the large hill event at the Vancouver Games in 2010, with Billy Demong taking gold and Johnny Spillane the silver. Spillane, who also won silver in the normal hill four years ago, has retired. The 33-year-old Demong said he is not far from retirement and is hoping to go out with another Olympic medal. “It was really final that I was done after this,” Demong said in reference to the Sochi Games. “Unless I’m here in a different sport or capacity in four years’ time, it’s totally off the table.” His next phase might be coaching or involvement in a ski jumping venue near New York.
HOPING FOR BETTER: The other Americans are 37-year-old Todd Lodwick, who is competing in his sixth games, and the brother act of Bryan and Taylor Fletcher. Lodwick, the flag-bearer for the U.S. at the opening ceremony, jumped in the normal hill event, but pulled out ahead of the cross-country portion to rest his injured left shoulder. He’s hoping to back up after Tuesday’s individual to help the Americans in the team event on Thursday.