Akito Watabe dethrones Eric Frenzel in Seefeld
Akito Watabe is the second athlete to win the Nordic Combined TRIPLE in its five-year history, following in Eric Frenzel's footsteps. The Japanese also dominated the third day and cruised to the victory over the 15 km distance. He finished one minute and 14 seconds ahead of Jarl Riiber, who captured back the second place after finishing third yesterday. Fabian Rießle returned to the podium, on position three, by outsprinting teammate Vinzenz Geiger. They crossed the finish line +1:57.9 after Watabe and had to be ranked according to a photo finish.
Even though he stated to have been very nervous in the morning, Akito Watabe kept his cool in the jumping part with two jumps of 104 and 103 metres and a total of 254.1 points. This score, including the time advantage that he already achieved on the past two days, put Watabe 48 seconds ahead of Jarl Riiber.
Riiber jumped 106 metres twice, with a beautiful telemark in the first and no telemark in the second jump, which cost him valuable seconds for the race. With a delay of 48 seconds, Riiber was set to ski a lonely race for long parts of the race on position two, as the pursuers in form of Jan Schmid and Willi Denifl were as far back as two minutes and 20 / 26 seconds at the start line. Especially Denifl made up points with two great jumps of 106 and 101.5 metres and improved position 11 after yesterday’s race to position four for today.
After another slightly bigger gap, Fabian Rießle, Mario Seidl and Kristjan Ilves followed with starting times of +2:58, +2:09 and +3:15. While Rießle won one place compared to yesterday’s finish with a solid jumping performance, Seidl and Ilves shot to the front again, coming from position 19 and 16.
Even though a 15 km race has its own rules, the battle for podium and the Top Ten ranks was far from decided as a tight group was able to ski together: From rank six, Martio Seidl to rank 13, Franz-Josef Rehrl, eight athlete started within 37 seconds of each other.
Akito Watabe and Jarl Magnus Riiber were fully in control of their respective races and kept the distance to all pursuers steady, even with Riiber skiing his first-ever competitive 15 km race.
Behind these two, Jan Schmid looked steady for the first 10 km race but behind him, the expected pursuing group consisting of Fabian Rießle, Jørgen Graabak, Eero Hirvonen, Mario Seidl, Espen Andersen, Vinzenz Geiger and Willi Denifl had formed. One lap later, Schmid was caught and Denifl had lost the group, as it was also to be the fate of teammate Mario Seidl half a lap later.
Out of this group, Rießle and Geiger sprinted for the third place, while Jørgen Graabak and a fast-skiing Eric Frenzel took ranks five and six from Jan Schmid. Eero Hirvonen ended up on position eight, Espen Andersen was ninth and Mario Seidl completed the Top Ten.