A debutant and a veteran set the final highlights
It ended like it started: After the opening of the winter season 2011/12 was surprisingly won by Norwegian Magnus Krog, it was a surprise that US American Bryan Fletcher could win the final event this season. Fletcher already attracted some attention with his fourth place in Liberec a few weeks ago, but not many would have expected that the 25-year-old will be able to celebrate his first win this winter. But even if there were some surprises this season, one thing remained the same: Jason Lamy Chappuis is the athlete of the winter in a year without major highlights like World Championships or Olympic Games.
The French won the overall World Cup title for the third time in a row. Something that Kenji Ogiwara could achieve in 1993 to 1995, Hannu Manninen of Finland was the best four times in a row from 2004 to 2007. So the 25-year-old Lamy Chappuis is among the greatest of his sport, he also won gold medals at Olympic Games and World Championships in his career. He has won everything there is to win in nordic combined.
But this year it was not easy for the champion. At some point during the season he seemed to dominate, but before the last competition he only had a lead of 72 points ahead of Akito Watabe of Japan. In the final event in Oslo the two rivals finished eighth and ninth. So Lamy Chappuis won the title with 68 points ahead of the Japanese. The closest result since 100 points awarded for a win.
Man of the day was Bryan Fletcher. The American from Steamboat Springs was third after the jumping, 39 seconds behind the winner Taihei Kato of Japan. Due to problems with the inrun track the second round of the planned traditional Gundersen competition had to be cancelled. So Fletcher had to fight the competition only in a 10 km race.
First Fletcher had to close the gap to the leader Taihei Kato. He did that after 6.6 km, Kato came in third and achieved his first podium result. The second place went to local hero Mikko Kokslien. The best cross country skier in nordic combined this season crowned his strength with the second place in the home competition in Oslo. He defeated the Japanese on the final stretch. Fletcher defended a lead of a few meters and celebrated his first win in the World Cup.