World Cup stops in Norway: the last battle is on!
The World Cup season of 2013/14 is slowly taking the last turn leading into the home stretch and even with Germany's Eric Frenzel already having clinched the big crystal globe of the overall world Cup, the finale of this season promises to be thrilling. With three last stops in Scandinavia, the fight between Germany and Norway for the Nations Cup will be decided on one of the opponent's home turf. Only 27 points separate the teams before going in the last four competitions of the winter.
First up is one Individual Gundersen competition at Trondheim, home to all four newly minted Sochi Olympic team champions including double Olympic gold medallist Joergen Graabak. For the first time since 2008, the Nordic Combined World Cup is returning to the town in the more northern part of the country, about 400 kilometres away from Oslo. At these last competitions in Trondheim in 2008, the athlete of the weekend was Finland's Anssi Koivuranta who has since then turned into a successful special jumper. But also French superstar Jason Lamy Chappuis and local hero Magnus Moan left their stamp on the result lists with a second and a third and a sixth place and a win back then, two names who still have the potential to show up on the podium at any time.
With a brand-new cross-country track waiting for the athletes after their six-year-absence, the competition will certainly be exciting to watch: "The main reason for remodeling our track was that we needed a track with more variety. A long decisive ascent at the end of the track will also be very spectacular for spectators", Bjoern Morseth of the OC in Trondheim promises.
After the brief stop in Trondheim, it is back to very traditional ground for the Nordic Combined World Cup: one more Individual Gundersen competition is on schedule at Holmenkollen, Norway's national arena in Oslo with some more World Cup points being up for grabs when the ski jumpers, cross-country skiers and Nordic Combined athletes meet for the last time in this winter and before the ultimate winter athletes turn to Sweden for the last important weekend: the pre-World Championships in Falun.
In Oslo, Frenzel and Lamy Chappuis evenly shared the two victories last season but for this year, it remains to be seen if the German superstar can crown his Olympic gold medal and the TRIPLE win and the overall World Cup victory with the prestigious King's Cup out of the hands of King Harald V of Norway.
A number of other athletes like teammate Johannes Rydzek who claimed last weekend's individual win, fellow Olympic champion Graabak who is still waiting for his first World Cup win or for example American Bryan Fletcher who won at Oslo two year ago will be having something against that, so the fight will be on at the two Norwegian World Cup stops, for sure.