PyeongChang 2018 OWG Preview: Nordic Combined
Although the often-cited quote of the Olympics having their own rules and a list of unpredicted winners and medallists tell a different story, with the Olympic Winter Games in PyeongChang on our doorsteps, it's high time to look back at the season so far and trying to determine some favourites.
After his winning spree at the Nordic Combined TRIPLE and a further ego boost at his home World Cup in Hakuba, Watabe will be on of the men to beat, especially on the large hill. As his jumping shape is great and his beautiful clean jumping style tends to get him high judges’ scores, Watabe will take an advantage to the cross-country track and can hold his own in a race very well as we have seen in the last weeks.
The 34-year-old is in his best season so far and will use the won self-confidence and his tremendous experience to read the competitions to his advantage. Paired with his sharp, analytical mind, Schmid is the master of planning and executing a winning strategy for a race, as last demonstrated in Hakuba on Sunday. His strength lies on the jumping hill but as he has invested a lot more in the cross-country part this year and is a serious contender for Olympic medals.
Never write off a superstar. Even though struggling in the season so far, Eric knows where his problems on the jumping hill are situated and will surely have used the time before the Olympics to work on his jumping shape. Plus, he stays stone cold under pressure and has delivered top results when it really counted for years.
Same goes for Rydzek, who is a multiple World Champion and wants to extend his medal collection to Olympic precious metals, too. He is hard to beat in a cross-country race and as it just takes one perfect jump to be in contention for a medal, Team Germany could strike back big time at the Olympics.
Even though he has not been not in full spotlight in this season, Graabak, a reigning Olympic champion, knows how to win an Olympic event and has a killer sprint finish, which could come in handy when fighting for a medal. He has also displayed a strong, steady jumping shape so far, which could get him into a promising position.
As the Olympics have their own rules, it may well be that an athlete surprises us who we did not think about at all yet. Just ask Jørgen Graabak or Georg Hettich, who both won without ever winning a World Cup event before. Given their performances in the season so far, good candidates for a breakout performance and surprise coup could be Eero Hirvonen (FIN) and Ilkka Herola (FIN) (and generally the Finnish team for the Team Event), Espen Andersen (NOR) and Jarl Riiber (NOR), Fabian Rießle (GER), Vinzenz Geiger (GER) or Lukas Klapfer (AUT). Also the French team had a habit of being a little under the radar during recent seasons but coming home with medals from title events.
THE PROGRAM (all times are local times!)
Wednesday, 14th of February, 2018
15:00 INDIVIDUAL GUNDERSEN HS 109 Competition Round
17:45 INDIVIDUAL GUNDERSEN 10 km race
Tuesday, 20th of February, 2018
19:00 INDIVIDUAL GUNDERSEN HS 140 Competition Round
21:45 INDIVIDUAL GUNDERSEN 10 km race
Thursday, 22nd of February, 2018
16:30 TEAM EVENT HS 140 Competition Round
19:20 TEAM EVENT 4.5 km race