Comebacks and retirements in Nordic Combined
French super star Jason Lamy Chappuis, Olympic and five-time World Champion, announced his comeback to competition at a press conference held in Paris (FRA) last week.
Two years ago, the 30-year old put his athletic career on hold in favour of pursuing a commercial pilot education, which he finished successfully.
“My reflection about returning to competition began at the Rio Olympic Games where I was a spectator and I felt this incredible atmosphere. It really made me want to live this event as an athlete again,” he said at the press conference.
The super star is currently taking part at his first comeback training camp with the French team in Ardèche.
Meanwhile, Nordic Combined legend Hannu Manninen (FIN), Olympic and three-time World Champion, who already returned to competition before his home Championships in Lahti, confirmed he will continue throughout the Olympic season.
“Achieving a really good result in Lahti was close, which made me hungry for more. In particular, in the team event a podium was possible" said Manninen. The veteran took 24th place in the Individual Gundersen event on the large hill and fifth place in the team event.
Manninen has achieved an unparalleled 48 FIS World Cup victories during his career and, along with Lamy Chappuis, is one of Nordic Combined’s biggest stars.
Among the athletes retiring after the past season are Norwegians Håvard Klemetsen and Thomas Kjelbotn.
38-year-old Klemetsen had 220 FIS World Cup starts during his long career. Among his biggest achievements were team gold at the 2014 Olympic Winter Games in Sochi and one gold, two silver and four bronze medals in team and team sprint events at FIS World Championships.
“I am privileged that I can look back on my Nordic Combined career with pride and I feel glad that I was able to experience so many highlights during my time. I have two kids and a girlfriend who I’d like to prioritise more from now on”, Klemetsen said (read an interview with him here).
Similar to Klemetsen, his teammate Tomas Kjelbotn decided to hang up his skis after the 2016/17 season. 30-year-old Kjelbotn had 45 FIS World Cup starts and earned four top-10 finishes.
"I have had many nice years as a Nordic Combined athlete, all the way from my youth until now. Looking back, I am very thankful for everything I got to be a part of and I got to experience in my long sports career, with both ups and downs,” he said.