Eric Frenzel, most decorated Nordic combined skier, sets retirement

Eric Frenzel

German Eric Frenzel, the most decorated Nordic combined skier in history with seven Olympic medals, 18 world championships medals and five World Cup overall titles, announced he will retire at the end of this season.

Frenzel, 34, said he completed the circle of his career by winning his 18th world championships medal last week in Planica, Slovenia, the site of his first major international medals at the 2007 World Junior Championships, which took place two months after he became a father at age 18.

Frenzel won back-to-back Olympic normal hill titles in 2010 and 2014 and added five more Olympic medals, including four in the team event.

At worlds, he won three individual titles from 2011 through 2019, two more individual medals and 13 medals in team events.

On the World Cup, he won five consecutive overall titles from 2013 through 2017.

Frenzel tested positive for COVID-19 on the eve of last year’s Olympics and missed both individual events. He came back to be part of Germany’s silver-medal team, tying Austrian Felix Gottwald for the most career Olympic Nordic combined medals. Frenzel has a better medal collection with three gold, two silver and two bronze to Gottwald’s three gold, one silver and three bronze.

This season, Frenzel ranks 18th in the World Cup with a best finish of fifth and placed 10th in his individual start at the world championships.

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Did Norway have best world championships season in snow sports history?

Norway Cross-Country Skiing

At the last two Winter Olympics, Norway reset the records for total medals a single Winter Games (39) and gold medals at a single Winter Games (16).

Over the last month, Norway bettered those totals with 52 medals and 18 gold medals in Olympic program events across the world championships in Alpine skiing, biathlon, cross-country skiing, freestyle skiing, Nordic combined, ski jumping, snowboarding and speed skating.

Norway came oh-so close to becoming the first nation to win a world championships gold medal in every single traditional Winter Olympic snow sport discipline in one year. It just missed in ski jumping, taking three silver and two bronze medals.

In Alpine skiing, Norway won the most medals outright at a world championships for the first time in history.

In biathlon, Norwegian Johannes Thingnes Boe nearly became the first person to sweep all four individual gold medals at a world championships. He won three golds and a bronze. Add in relays, and he earned five gold medals, a silver and a bronze in the seven events at worlds, plus a road sign in his name.

In cross-country skiing, Norway won all six men’s gold medals at worlds and all four individual men’s silver medals, its most dominant showing ever in men’s races in that sport.

Freestyle skiing and snowboarding hold their world championships together. This was the second time in history that Norway won a gold medal in each discipline in one year — Marcus Kleveland in snowboard slopestyle and Birk Ruud in ski slopestyle. Norway’s seven total medals at freestyle and snowboard worlds were its most ever.

Norway was at its best in Nordic combined, winning all five gold medals (three men’s events, one women’s event and one mixed-gender event). Nordic combined is the lone Olympic sport with no female representation at the Winter Games.

On ice, Ragne Wiklund earned one gold and two silver at speed skating worlds, marking the best-ever performance for a Norwegian woman at those championships that date to 1996. Wiklund, still just 22, is Norway’s most accomplished female speed skater since World War II.

There are more Winter Olympic medal events than ever, so it’s hardly a surprise that Norway, the most successful Winter Olympic nation in history, is breaking medal records (especially with Russia, a traditional rival in biathlon and cross-country skiing, absent).

Other nations can take solace in knowing that a new snow sport debuts at the 2026 Winter Games: ski mountaineering. Norway didn’t win any medals at that sport’s world championships that finished on Sunday.

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Nordic combined world champion draws on beard to protest no Olympic women’s event

Gyda Westvold Hansen

Norwegian Gyda Westvold Hansen, the first world champion in women’s Nordic combined, competed in a domestic event with a drawn-on beard on Saturday to protest the lack of an Olympic women’s Nordic combined event.

Westvold Hansen and other women also raised their ski poles at the start line to form Xs. Top female Nordic combined skiers have used the hashtag #noeXception on social media in speaking out against a June decision not to add women’s Nordic combined to the Winter Olympics for 2026.

“We think it’s absurd that you have to look like this or have a beard to be allowed to compete in the Olympics. We hope to do something about it,” Westvold Hansen told Norwegian broadcaster NRK, according to a Reuters translation. “This is important for recruitment and girls to want to continue with the sport, which is so much fun. It is extremely important for the sport.”

Nordic combined is the lone Olympic sport without female representation.

The IOC chose not to add a women’s event for 2026, citing having “only one world championship to date” that had 10 nations represented and all three medals won by one nation (Norway). Karl Stoss, chair of the IOC Olympic program commission, said those numbers do not meet universality criteria.

The first women’s Nordic combined World Cup event was in December 2020. The number of scheduled World Cups this season increases from 10 to 11. A mixed-gender team event will be held at the world championships for the first time, in addition to the one individual women’s event that debuted at worlds in 2021.

Nordic combined officials believed that their sport was in danger of being dropped from the Olympic program altogether if the IOC opted against adding a women’s event.

The decisive argument for keeping men’s Nordic combined on the 2026 program without a women’s event was the proximity — male athletes are already preparing for the Games.

The IOC said men’s Nordic combined “had by far the lowest audience numbers” of sports over the last three Olympics. It noted that the 27 medals won in the sport among 2014, 2018 and 2022 were spread across “only” four nations.

Its inclusion in the 2030 Winter Olympics depends on significant developments in global participation and audience.

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