Frenzel claims Nordic combined

Fierce wind forces closure of Olympic Park

Germany’s Eric Frenzel celebrates winning gold during the victory ceremony following the nordic combined men’s individual normal hill NH/10km final at the Pyeongchang 2018 Winter Olympic Games Wednesday. — AFP



PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Eric Frenzel wasn’t about to let a half-minute deficit deny him of another taste of Olympic glory.

Fifth after the ski jumping stage of the Nordic combined Wednesday, the 29-year-old German started 38 seconds off the leader and surged ahead of Akito Watabe on the last uphill of the 10-kilometer cross-country race to defend his title in the normal hill event at the Pyeongchang Games.

“I felt from the get-go that I could get the gold,” Frenzel said. “I got in a good group and knew how to keep a check on the others so I was very confident and am very happy with this result.”

With just over 1 kilometer remaining, it looked like Watabe might give Japan its first gold of the games. But Frenzel powered ahead of the World Cup leader on the hill for Germany’s sixth gold in Pyeongchang.

Watabe finished 4.8 seconds behind for the silver while Lukas Klapfer of Austria took the bronze.

“Just before the last hill, I thought I had a shot at gold,” Watabe said. “But when Eric started to climb the hill like that I knew I wasn’t going to get it.”

Nordic combined features ski jumping and a cross-country ski race. The athlete who wins the ski jumping stage starts first followed by the remaining athletes in their order of finish.

Over a 10-year career on the World Cup circuit, Frenzel has 42 individual wins and eight team titles to go with three previous Olympic medals, which includes team silver in Sochi and bronze in Vancouver.

He won the World Cup title for five consecutive years from 2013 and has five world championship titles, yet many still considered Watabe the favorite going into Wednesday’s event.

Germany’s “Bayern Express”, Tobias Wendl and Tobias Arlt, thundered down the ice track to defend their Olympic gold medal in the doubles luge, underlining their class on the sliding sport’s biggest stage.

Four years after denying Austrian brothers Andreas and Wolfgang Linger a hat trick of titles in Sochi, Wendl and Arlt put in two flawless runs at Pyeongchang’s Olympic Sliding Centre to edge out silver-winning Austrian duo Peter Penz and Georg Fischler.

The favored German pair of Toni Eggert and Sascha Benecken, who had won virtually every major trophy over the past two seasons, had to be content with bronze.

Germany has now won two out of three of the luge titles at the Pyeongchang Games, following Natalie Geisenberger’s second successive triumph in the women’s singles Tuesday.

German athletes have now won 11 out of 15 of the doubles golds in luge dating back to the 1964 Innsbruck Games.

Snowboarding at the Olympics turned 20 this year, and there’s a good chance that in another two decades, people will still be talking about the contest that went down in the mountains of South Korea Wednesday.

They will definitely still be talking about Shaun White.

It wasn’t so much that White won his third gold medal to place his name among the greatest to compete in the Olympics, or in any realm of sports, for that matter.

It was the way he did it.

Sharp, gusting wind forced the temporary closure of the Olympic Park in Gangneung Wednesday, the latest blow from wild weather that has affected the games for several days.

Sustained winds of 23 mph (37 kph) with stronger gusts howled through the Olympic Park near the coast, knocking over tents, signs and even small refrigerators. The conditions have repeatedly forced the postponement of events in the mountains to the west, notably Alpine skiing.

Local officials began evacuating Olympic Park at about 3 p.m., with public address announcements in Korean and English urging spectators to go indoors and eventually a police presence helped clear the area. Many spectators sought shelter in buildings near the Gangneung Hockey Centre. Normal activity resumed several hours later. — Agencies