Big names retire after Olympic season
When an Olympic cycle comes to an end, it means new beginnings for many athletes. This time, some of Nordic Combined’s big names have said their goodbyes to the World Cup life and are looking forward to new chapters in their lives.
First up was Finnish legend Hannu Manninen, who ended a two-year comeback to finally return to the Finnair cockpits. Manninen quietly announced his career end after the World Cup in Lahti but was present the next weekend in Holmenkollen to receive the Holmenkollen medal, the highest honour a ski athlete can obtain in Norway. Manninen is the 16th Finn to receive the medal.
Norwegian Mikko Kokslien, who ended a 12-year tenure on the World Cup on his 33rd birthday in Oslo. Not only did little daughter Vilja wave the flag on the coaches stand before Kokslien’s last jump, she also did a lap of honour with him along the frenetic Norwegian audience after his last race. Kokslien can look back on seven World Cup victories, 27 podium results and five World Championship medals.
Following next with a retirement announcement of his own was 31-year-old American Bryan Fletcher. The older of the Fletcher brothers and childhood cancer survivor hangs up his skis to focus on a career in the health sector and ends his career after 133 World Cups and one memorable victory in Holmenkollen in 2012.
Another career end after a comeback was in order for French superstar Jason Lamy Chappuis. He is also on the way into a career as a commercial pilot and hopes to grace the Air France cockpits in the years to come. Even though his individual performances in the comeback year were not the same as in his best times when he won the World Cup overall three times in a row, he was a cornerstone of the French team. After a total of 188 World Cups, 26 victories and 59 podiums, Lamy Chappuis is now looking forward to a new chapter in life.
The final career end announcement hit the German audience in Klingenthal deeply: local hero Björn Kircheisen will start a final time in Schonach on the upcoming weekend and then hang up his skis after a record-breaking 281 World Cup starts, 17 victories and 45 podium results. The 35-year-old collected four Olympic medals and eleven World Championship medals, among them finally a gold at last year's Team Event in Lahti. Kircheisen is now aiming for a career as a coach.