Eric Frenzel wrote sports history in February. With his two gold and one bronze medal at the Winter Olympics, the 29-year-old is now the most successful nordic combined athlete in German Olympic history – with a total of three gold, one silver and two bronze medals.
Quite clear: For sport.de Eric Frenzel is after his great success at the Winter Games, the athletes of the month of February. With sport.de the Nordic Combiner spoke exclusively about his victories of Pyeongchang, the honor of the German flag bearer and thoughts of resignation.
Mr. Frenzel, the hustle and bustle about you was enormous after the Winter Games. How did the first days go back in Germany?
Eric Frenzel: There was a lot going on, especially as Lahti went straight to the next World Cup station. After the return flight, the reception in Frankfurt started. Since I myself was late at home in the evening. One day later I was able to train a bit in peace, before I was received in the evening in my home Flössenburg. From Wednesday it was time to bag again and prepare for the next World Cup station announced.
Please describe your initial situation before the Olympic Games of PyeongChang. They had until then only a World Cup victory to book, and eighth in the overall World Cup. How big was the pressure you made on yourself?
I would rather call it expectation. I already realized that the World Cup did not go the way I had wished. The process was actually quite good for the start of the season in terms of training and fitness. With my victory in Ramsau, I also had a very positive highlight in December, which had shown me: Okay, the way is right.
But you’re right: When the World Cups started again in the New Year, things did not go as smoothly as I would have liked, as in the years before, when I found my way to my top form more quickly. Since then I’ve become a bit nervous, because time runs away slowly. Then finding the right way is not that easy.
The expectation of nordic combined overall with four potential top ten athletes was huge. How did you handle this in the NoKo team?
We already knew that from Sochi four years ago. It was even more extreme because the results in the World Cup were better and I went to the Olympics as overall World Cup leader. I certainly wished that it was all over again, but this huge pressure from the outside was actually not there.
On the 14th of February you won the gold medal in the first competition after jumping from the normal hill and ten kilometers cross-country skiing. What emotions did you already have during the race when they realized that it works today?
You do not experience an Olympic victory very often, neither of us! Even in Sochi, the first gold medal was a highlight, which I will never forget. Also this time it was a very special feeling. At first I could not really believe that I could repeat this success. It was all right at the right time, it was just beautiful!
Few people could answer the question before you, which moment meant more to you: to wear the German flag at the opening ceremony or to win an Olympic gold medal – what was the bigger experience for you?
It is very difficult to compare both! Being on the podium and winning gold is an incredible tribute to the performance you’ve achieved right now. I have worked for myself and am very proud of it. Of course the whole flag bearer story has been a great honor for me. The honor benefits you from the outside because you have done many things right over many years in sporting matters but perhaps also as a human. I really enjoyed that and it was a great feeling to be in front.
In the competition of the large hill you showed with your DSV colleagues Johannes Rydzek, Fabian Rießle and Vinzenz Geiger an outstanding team performance. Did you ever experience such a disappointment that in the final sprint it was only enough to finish third and bronze?
Of course, as an athlete you always want to get the maximum out of it. It was also very close. Finally, I am very proud of my performance in this race and the bronze medal. The two (Rydzek and Rießle, editor’s note) have more than earned their medals, to be able to stand on top of the podium. They did a great job and showed off their strengths, with me it just was not enough for the day.
What happens in the Olympic team on such an evening, when the Nordic combined with the places one, two, three and seven come home?
None of us really thought that it would be a great match for the Olympic Games, like last year at the World Cup. It was an amazing moment to clear the medals. This success has done us not only, but the entire German team very well. The athletes, coaches, supervisors and technicians were all happy.
Two days later, the relay gold was almost booked. The gold medal could actually only go over Germany. How difficult was it to keep up the tension before this competition?
The tension is high by itself! We knew that we are in good shape and can become an Olympic champion. The danger was that the starting position could have been too great a burden. Luckily, we all did a very good job and were able to reproduce what we had already shown. It was a terrific competition that we all enjoyed.
You have won your medals four, five and six in PyeongChang. With three Olympic victories and a total of six medals, you are now in a row with legends such as Georg Hackl, Maria Höfl-Riesch or Jens Weißflog. Have you ever realized your successes?
Actually, I have not thought too much about that yet. I’m extremely proud of my six Olympic medals, that’s a big deal. That I could catch up to such sports greats, I’m glad in any case. But basically you look at something I believe only when you have someday hung the skis on the nail. I’m just trying to enjoy the moment without looking back too much. It’s just too fast in sports.
Her colleague Laura Dahlmeier was next to you the most successful German medal collector in PyeongChang, is always brought back with thoughts of withdrawal in connection. Will you definitely receive us in the coming winter?
Of course, I’m getting into an age when I can think about it. But as long as I still have the fun of Nordic combined and can bring the performance, I want to continue the sport! I have lived with the sport for many years, it just makes it fun for me. As long as my family supports me so much, we will continue this way. The home World Cup 2021 in Oberstdorf and maybe even the Olympic Games 2022 are still big goals. But I have to think from step to step and keep that open.
We talked to other athletes who made new contacts and friendships at the Olympics. Who did you meet again from the German team or general in recent weeks?
In the last few days we had closer contact with the ice hockey players again. In my case especially with Christian Ehrhoff, who was nominated as flag bearer like me. It was very nice to meet him and hear his story. His athletic career was and is terrific. Of course, the contact with the other athletes is always something very special.