Eric Frenzel in doubt for Tuesday's competition

17 February 2014 13:42
Eric Frenzel in doubt for Tuesday's competition
Eric Frenzel in doubt for Tuesday's competition -

Germany's gold medal favourite Eric Frenzel is in doubt for Tuesday's LH/10km competition after spending the last two days in bed with a fever. The German team will decide on the morning of the competition whether Frenzel, the world cup leader and NH/10km gold medallist last Wednesday, will compete in Tuesday's event. 

Frenzel fell ill with a virus on Saturday night, when he broke out in sweats, and has not trained since. "Eric is ill, he has a fever," said German press attache Florian Schwarz (GER). "He is not training today and the team doctor will make a decision tomorrow at 8am whether Eric starts in the individual or waits for the team event." Schwarz said that Frenzel's condition has improved since Saturday but coach Hermann Weinbuch (GER) and teammate Johannes Rydzek (GER) said after Monday's ski jumping training that Frenzel's chances of competing on Tuesday were only 50/50. "I think there is little chance he will compete," Weinbuch said. "It's very hard to race here so he must be strong. You are only a chance when you have all your power." 

USA athlete Taylor Fletcher (USA) said the potential absence of Frenzel would have a huge impact on Tuesday's competition. "Eric's been dominating all year, he's been jumping out of his mind," Fletcher said. "It's like starting the superbowl without your quarterback." For other athletes, the focus remains on themselves, with or without Frenzel. "Too bad for him," said Todd Lodwick (USA). "I'm not too concerned about anyone else except taking care of my own things. When you start worrying about other people that's when it goes awry." 

The LH/10km competition begins with one competition round of ski jumping at 13:30 on Tuesday. 

If Frenzel does not compete, or if he participates but cannot perform at his customary level, Akito Watabe (JPN) would be the presumptive favourite. Watabe won silver behind Frenzel in the NH/10km event on Wednesday 12 February and has five individual world cup podiums this season, more than anyone else except the German world cup leader, who has seven. Watabe's self-declared "small" chance of winning gold would dramatically increase in Frenzel's absence and the 25-year-old Japanese athlete could even prove the internet wrong. "There isn't really any pressure on me now, I have a medal and, if you check the results on the internet, I am always second," Watabe said on Saturday. "I have small chances of taking the gold medal." 

Normal hill bronze medallist Magnus Krog (NOR) leads a strong Norwegian contingent that includes Haavard Klementsen and Magnus Hovdal Moan, all of whom could challenge for medals. Klementsen won two of the three rounds of ski jumping in Monday's final official training session and will need to produce something similar on Tuesday to establish a lead heading into his less preferred cross country phase. Moan jumped 138m on the K-125 large hill in the second round of Monday's training session and will challenge for gold if he repeats that in competition, considering he is one of the strongest cross country skiers in the field. 

Jason Lamy Chappuis (FRA), the 2011 world champion in this event, will be looking to rebound from his nightmare cross country phase in the NH/10km which saw him tumble from 8th after the ski jumping round to a final result of 35th. 

German head coach Hermann Weinbuch spoke about how the situation would change for his team if Frenzel would not be able to compete: "It's different for us if our best man is not on the start list. He's our biggest guy on the team. It's a new situation but the other guys are very strong so it's a new chance for everybody. I hope they take it."