The heat is back on: SGP 2014 about to get under way
With not even one week left to the first competition of the FIS Nordic Combined Summer Grand Prix 2014, it’s time to switch back into competition mode for athletes, officials and fans alike.
A dense two week period with five competitions and three qualifications in the course of nine days is scheduled from the 22nd of August onwards in the traditional summer resorts of Oberwiesenthal, Villach and Oberstdorf. The five competitions will feature three different formats: the Team Sprint, the Individual Gundersen and the Final Individual Gundersen with 2 jumps and 15 kilometres of roller-skiing for the Top 30 athletes of the summer.
Most of the top stars set to start
That the battle for Nordic Combined’s Grand Prix title is anything but a meaningless activity next to summer training can be seen from the start list. A total of 14 nations are expected at the first venue Oberwiesenthal and the registration lists reads like a who is who of the sport: Olympic and Word Champion Eric Frenzel will delight his home audience together with other German big names like Tino Edelmann or Fabian Riessle. French superstar Jason Lamy Chappuis will lead his full World Championship gold-winning team of Francois Baud, Sebastien Lacroix and Maxime Laheurte into battle.
With strong competitors in both parts, the competitions are set to be anything but dull. Gifted jumpers Haavard Klemetsen, Jan Schmid and Thomas Kjelbotn from Norway will battle out the intermediate leads with Czech rising star Tomas Portyk, Christoph Bieler, Yoshito Watabe and Russian jumping sensation Evgeniy Klimov. On the roller-ski tracks, they will have to watch their backs for lightning-fast skiers Björn Kircheisen, Hugo Buffard or Olympic bronze medallist Magnus Krog or the Austrian team around veteran Mario Stecher and Lukas Klapfer.
Jørgen Graabak vs. Johannes Rydzek
And also last season’s hottest duel, Norwegian Olympic Champion Jørgen Graabak vs. German overall World Cup runner-up Johannes Rydzek will see it’s sequel this summer. „It is a highlight that Jørgen and the Norwegian team are on the start“, Rydzek states. „Now we can have a first test where we both stand and what might happen in this duel between us when the winter comes. I definitely have to see how my level of performance is right now because I have put my focus on my studies in the past few weeks and months. I think there’s still some room for improvement for me on the hill and tracks but I also did not have that many chances to compare to somebody as of now.“
Room for improvement - a situation that also Rydzek’s arch-rival Graabak sees for himself: „I have suffered from a couple of badly timed injuries the last period but now I am fully back in the game. Hopefully I can perform well, and if I do I will be in the race, but for me to be victorious in the Summer Grand Prix is rather unlikely. But if I have the chance I will take it!“ So one thing is for sure: both competitors do not want to put their cards on the table just yet.
5th Oberstdorf win in a row for Rydzek?
Meanwhile, German Johannes Rydzek will also be facing a trial of another kind. The resident of Oberstdorf can make it a great five years in a row that he has at least won one summer competition in his hometown. „My home competitions always are a big highlight for me and I will try to use all power I have. If I succeed in that, everything will be possible. Maybe even that fifth win!“
Milestone for Ladies Nordic Combined
With a stable set of rules and competition formats, there will be close to no testing going on in the Summer Grand Prix of 2014. Instead the focus will be on the future of the discipline itself: The 12th edition of the FIS Nordic Combined Youth Grand Prix comprises a training camp for Nordic Combined’s youngsters - for the first time for boys AND girls -, two days of international competitions and the chance to get a close look at the current top stars of the discipline.
With this program, Nordic Combined will pass a historic milestone when the first ever international Ladies Nordic Combined competitions takes place at the finale stage of the Summer Grand Prix in Oberstdorf at the 29th and 30th of August.