Eric Frenzel, seven-time world champion and three-time Olympic champion, is one of the most successful Nordic Combined athletes of all time. Despite his extensive training, the 32 year-old German took the time to take part in our Tuesday Talk to talk in detail about role models, his favorite career moments and the preparation for his 4th Olympic Winter Games in Beijing 2022.
The name Frenzel has stood for consistency and success in Nordic Combined for many years. Is it sometimes difficult to be the figurehead of an entire sport?
As a successful athlete, you are of course very happy to be a figurehead. It is a great honor for me that Nordic Combined gets associated with my name and it makes me very proud. I am very happy that I was able to put my “stamp” on the sport in a certain way. Of course, this also means that expectations are very high and my own claim is to live up to them. But, that's more inspiring than stressful for me.
With your many years of experience, you are a role model, especially for young athletes. Who did you look up to at the beginning of your career?
Back then, of course, I also had my role models and didn't have to look far. With the successes of Ronny Ackermann, Björn Kircheisen and Georg Hettich's Olympic victory in Turin, I had many athletes in my own ranks whom I could look up to. Outside of our own sport, I was always enthusiastic about Ole Einar Bjørndalen and the meticulousness with which he practiced his sport and the long time he was successful. It was always my wish to be able to emulate that at some point.
The Beijing Olympic Winter Games will be your fourth. Is the participation still something special for you or has an “Olympic routine” already set in?
I don't think an Olympic routine really comes about. Since the competitions are all so far apart, there is always a certain amount of excitement. However, it is not bad to have a experience in what is to come in order to be able to assess everything better. At my first Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver/CAN I made some beginner mistakes, but luckily I was able to learn from them.
It was the same with the second. The wealth of experience grows and you can learn from the mistakes you made, therefore, I take something with me from every Games.
Are you planning any special preparation for the 2022 Games? If so, how does this differ from conventional winter preparation?
I don't think there will be any very special preparation for Beijing 2022. Of course, we are facing an Olympic season and the preparation of the last few years has been geared towards the upcoming Games. As a result, the scope of training is high because we have to underpin the goals and expectations that we are pursuing and accordingly have to train a lot. Over the years, however, our trainers have got a very good feel for this, especially Hermann (Weinbuch) who has accompanied top German athletes to the Olympic Winter Games for many years. He knows what to do in order to be successful, as we were able to prove in 2018 (in Pyeongchang/KOR). This means for us to first implement the training plan and then see what comes out of it in the end.
You left Pyeongchang in 2018 with two gold medals and one bronze. With a view to Beijing, do these results create motivation or increased pressure to perform?
For me, that's more of a motivation. I don't see that as a pressure to perform, because I am fortunate enough not to have to deliver anymore. I can deliver and I want to do that, of course, that's my claim, but maybe that's exactly what creates more serenity in the whole situation. I want to pursue my goals and I am primarily looking forward to the competitions in Beijing, so that at this time I can simply convince with my best performance.
You have experienced many great moments in competitive sports. Is there one that you remembered particularly positively?
That's true! There have been a many great moments and it's difficult to compare them. Starting with my first World Championship title (Oslo/NOR, 2011), which came as a surprise to me at the time, to my last World Championship title in Seefeld 2019, where I would never have thought in advance that I would even have a chance to get on the podium. Every success has its own story, especially the Olympics with the first gold medal and the second - these are all moments I will never forget. It's hard to say which one was the most beautiful. One moment I always remember positively, that probably won't come back anytime soon, was the honor to carry the German flag into the Olympic stadium in Pyeongchang/KOR. Not many athletes can experience this, so it was really big for me.
What advice would you give to a young athlete who is about to start his first Olympic season?
To stay calm, to soak up everything and to take with you as much as possible. It is important to learn not to let yourself be disturbed, but simply to call up your performance. Trying to shine at the Olympics usually backfires. Instead, you should just do what you can and don't have too high expectations. The Olympics have their own rules and the most beautiful Olympic moments often arise from very unexpected situations. So, if you just do your thing, you have the opportunity to go very far.