Between fear and hope

Germany's Olympic candidates on hold

As bad as the season has been so far, the low performance has one advantage: Richard Freitag and Carina Vogt don't have to lose any sleep over Beijing. Not so long ago, both were among the top performers on the world's ski jumps. Both suffered injuries, did not get back on track and are therefore only present at these Games in front of the TV. Whether Vogt and Freitag will continue their sporting careers is written in the stars. It is quite possible that it will be over after this season, because Vogt won five world championship titles in her glorious career, also wrote sports history as the first ski jumping Olympic champion in 2014, and Freitag, silver medalist in Pyeongchang with the team, stood at the top twice at world title competitions, a total of four times on the podium, taking bronze together with Vogt in the mixed - team in 2013, gold two years later and also won four plaques at ski flying world championships. So world title competitions are no longer a particularly appealing goal for either of them, and it's still four years until the Games in Milan in 2026.

Many open questions

Other athletes, however, are not only shivering from the cold these days. But because the tension is rising. Whether in the Nordic combined, ski jumping, biathlon or alpine skiing - rarely have the candidates been so close together, rarely have the responsible coaches had so many beads of sweat on their foreheads. The Nordic combined is a prime example. Thanks to their top performances in the World Cup winter, Vinzenz Geiger and Eric Frenzel already have their Olympic tickets in the bag. But five other candidates are still eyeing the three other free places, because the national coach is only allowed to take a handful of athletes to China. If one takes the pure World Cup ranking, the matter would be clear. Geiger and Frenzel are in third and fourth place, Terence Weber is fifth, Julian Schmid eighth, then Johannes Rydzek follows in 13th place and Manuel Faißt one place behind. Fabian Rießle as number 19 has rather bad cards, the veteran from the Black Forest landed once in this winter in second place, but that was it and so the team Olympic champion from Pyeongchang lacks half the internal standard, which national coach Hermann Weinbuch had issued before the start of the season and which the rest of the squad can now show.

The fact that Weinbuch has not yet issued a Persil certificate to Terence Weber, for example, is due to his current form. And the curve of the Saxon recently showed a little downward, Johannes Rydzek, on the other hand, proved a rising tendency a week ago in Val di Fiemme and also recently in Klingenthal. It is quite possible that Weber or Manuel Faißt will have to bite the bullet and watch the games in front of the TV at home. This is particularly unfortunate because all seven German combined athletes would easily have a ticket for the Games in any other nation and in many other disciplines in German winter sports as well.

Quote participations

In speed skating, for example. Most of the athletes there hope that the federation will see sense and take them to the Far East. International quotas would allow this, but only former champion Claudia Pechstein and Patrick Beckert from Erfurt have met the nomination criteria this winter. In cross-country skiing, too, some athletes are pleased that there will be relays, because at least five athletes each will be able to enjoy the trip to China.

Medals guarantors

That looks different on the ice track. Among the bobsleigh pilots, "Kaiser" Francesco Friedrich had long since been confirmed as a starter in both the two-man and four-man bobsleighs, and the battle for the second bobsleigh was all the more fierce. In luge, too, the German top has meant the world's top for years, and anyone who doesn't make it in Germany would often enough still be the clear number one in the team elsewhere. Which means that the road to Beijing in these sports is often harder than the hunt for medals on the ground. This is also a state of affairs that perhaps allows athletes to sleep a little more soundly.


Foto: Kevin Voigt

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