Athlete of the Week: Jan Schmid (NOR)
There are few people in the Nordic Combined World Cup, who can appreciate the statement “Patience is a virtue” more than the current World Cup leader Jan Schmid. At 34 years of age, the Norwegian with Swiss roots conquered the yellow bib for the very first time and, as he proved in Val di Fiemme in an impressive manner, he is here to keep it.
Coming out of a black season 2016/17, Schmid was surprised at his good results at first, especially at the consistency that he had been sorely missing before. But with the season progressing, the Top Ten and podium results kept piling up: second, fourth, eighteenth, second, third and fourth the summary of his individual results read before the weekend in Val di Fiemme and for some, it was surprising to see Schmid receive the yellow bib for these good but somewhat unobtrusive results.
Schmid’s way to the top suited his personality: quiet but extremely smart, analytical and calculated. On the past weekend in Val di Fiemme, however, Schmid broke character. Not at first, when he collected one more unobtrusive fourth place, albeit in a tight finish line sprint against Austria’s Lukas Klapfer, but kept the point advantage of his closest pursuer Johannes Rydzek from Germany at a minimum.
The second Individual Gundersen event was different in every regard. Starting into the cross-country race from a third position after a good jumping event, Schmid was done with following groups or losing finish line sprints in the end. Catching up with second-placed Mario Seidl right at the beginning of the race, Schmid proceeded to close a big gap to jumping leader and teammate Jarl Riiber - and kept going. Almost jumping up the uphills, skiing a strong pace all by himself at the head of the field, onlookers were almost wondering if this truly was Jan Schmid dominating a race like this.
But they and all opponents had to realise that strength comes in many forms and that Schmids quiet, smart and newly confident performance is the level to beat in the World Cup of 2017/18.
So after sixteen years in the World Cup, a very difficult change of nationality from Swiss to Norwegian, not making the team of the the Sapporo 2007, Fiemme 2013 and Lahti 2017 World Championships or the Sochi Olympics, Jan Schmid has finally made it all the way to the top. Yesterday, he was nominated for his third Olympic stint, holding the yellow bib with a 76 point lead and both could not be more deserved. Patience is a virtue and now Jan Schmid is finally getting the respect due for his.