By Slike Tegethof, Schonach, March 18, 2017: Eric Frenzel has decided the second-but-last World Cup of the season in his favour. In a dramatic finish that had rival Johannes crashing going into the final stretch, Frenzel took the win and 100 World Cup points and now leads with a margin of 54 points. Austrian Willi Denifl profited of Rydzek’s crash and claimed position two, +3.4 seconds after Frenzel. Rydzek reached the finish line 7.1 seconds after Frenzel.
After his brother Akito stood on top of the result list of yesterday’s PCR, it was Yoshito Watabe’s time to shine today. The Japanese claimed the intermediate lead and pole position for the race with a jump of 103.5 metres. 128.7 points translated into a nine-second head start for the 10 km. Austrian veteran Willi Denifl ranked second with 102 metres, while Adam Cieslar of the Polish team surprised with a great jump of 105 metres to take the third intermediate position. (126.3 p.).
The duel between Frenzel and Rydzek was still wide open at the starting point of the race, as both had good jumps on the hill. Frenzel left the start line 15 seconds after Watabe, Rydzek followed at +0:21 on the 7x 1.5 km track. Also in the contention for top ranks were Switzerland’s Tim Hug at +0:24, Akito Watabe at +0:33 and Norwegian Jan Schmid, who’s had good results in Schonach in the past years, at +0:38.
The race in Schonach took place with heavy winds blowing across the cross-country track in Wittenbachtal. A big group of over 20 athletes formed quickly into the first of seven laps, making it almost a mass start. As none of the athletes wanted to lead in the windy conditions, the race was very tactical and very slow. Akito Watabe was visible on the head of the field for a while, interchanging with the Austrians Mario Seidl and Willi Denifl and the slow tempo was kept up until the very last lap.
On the sixth lap, the leading group was reduced to seven athletes but soon later, the slow speed brought the rest of the group back again. On the last lap, veteran Denfil tore open a gap and at first, it looked like nobody wanted to pursue him. Denifl went away from the group but on the last uphill, the fight between Frenzel and Rydzek erupted fully, catapulting the leading Frenzel and pursuing Rydzek past the Austrian.
Going on to the final stretch, Frenzel picked his lane and when Rydzek wanted to go over to the other lane, he came to close, touched Frenzel’s ski end and crashed spectacularly, injuring his nose and lip in the process. So the yellow bib bearer won his second Schwarzwaldpokal in a row and gained valuable points in the overall standings. Denifl took advantage of Rydzek’s crash and finished second. Rydzek minimised the damage by finishing third but was visibly shaken and upset over the probable loss of his first overall trophy.
– Longest jump of the day: Adam Cieslar jumped 105 metres (126.3 p.), which meant the third position after jumping.
– Fastest cross-country time: Alessandro Pittin needed 27:11.6 for the seven laps of 1.5 km and improved from position 41 to rank 15.
– The Top Ten: Three Austrians (Denifl, Seidl, Gruber), two Germans (Frenzel, Rydzek), one Japanese (Watabe, A.), one Norwegian (Schmid), one Pole (Cieslar), one Finn (Hirvonen), one Swiss (Hug)
– Overall World Cup / Nations Cup Standings: Frenzel now leads with 1634 points, Rydzek holds 1580, Rießle 1053 points.
– Career bests: Cieslar (7), Ilves (14), Slowiok (18).
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