World Cup final in Lahti
Farewell to combiner Frenzel: tears, champagne and trellis
Eric Frenzel has dominated and shaped Nordic Combined for many years. Now the exceptional athlete has said goodbye to sporting retirement.
Eric Frenzel shed the first farewell tears after the ski jump, when he crossed the finish line of the 10-kilometer cross-country ski, Germany’s best Nordic combined athlete in history was greeted by his colleagues with a trellis and a champagne shower.
The 39th place in the last competition of his exceptionally successful career became a minor matter for the 34-year-old at the World Cup final in Lahti. “It’s brutally emotional. I’m overjoyed to be able to experience that and to have such an honor to have been greeted with a trellis by all the athletes. It’s great, phenomenal,” said the visibly touched Frenzel about the homage from the field of participants .
5:31 minutes after the winner Jarl Magnus Riiber from Norway finished the last World Cup of his incomparable career. But that didn’t matter. “He’s the greatest of all time. He’ll stay that way, no matter how many victories the others celebrate,” said teammate Vincenz Geiger.
Opponents praise Frenzel
Riiber, who after his 79th World Cup victory is only just behind Frenzel (83) in the all-time list, also paid tribute to the family man. “For me, he was always my hero. When I was little, I looked at him,” said the Norwegian.
Frenzel was always a role model, he never wanted to be a star. “It was always more important to me to arrive as a person and as an athlete. I am very grateful that this was accepted and that the boys, from whatever country, paid tribute to me today. It was great and a beautiful moment.” , stressed Frenzel.
In the presence of his family and many friends, he enjoyed the finale of his career to the fullest, even if he could no longer keep up with the best in sport. Even the last act on the hill was very special, because father Uwe was allowed to wave his son off on the trainer’s tower. “I don’t even know where to go with my feelings,” Frenzel confessed afterwards.
National coach Weinbuch is also breaking up
Hermann Weinbuch was also upset. In the last race of his tenure as national coach, the 63-year-old put on a white T-shirt with a picture of Frenzel and the inscription “GOAT” (Greatest Of All Time). After 57 medals at major events, Weinbuch is now over.
“My main characteristic was definitely the passion and love for this sport. I was always open to new things and always recognized where the journey was going and set the appropriate course,” said the national coach in retrospect. “I have always recognized and encouraged talent.”
Frenzel, who can imagine a career as a coach, could take on this task in the near future. “If we could win him over it would be a huge win for Nordic Combined in Germany,” said Weinbuch. But first Frenzel will take a break: “I’ll rest first. The last race was tough and my knees are pretty weak.”