Opposing demands make nordic combined a battle of the all-rounders

For Nordic combined medal contender Jan Andersen (GER) the challenge sounds simple.

Picture by OIS

“It is like you have to be the ultimate all-rounder, we are combining different sports and we have to be good at everything,” the German said ahead of the event, which features ski jumping and cross-country skiing.

“It is one of the most difficult sports to do.”

The German is making a pretty good stab at it. He has recorded four top-10 finishes already this season in the Alpen Cup, a senior race series below World Cup level run by the International Ski Federation (FIS).

It is no surprise that rivals including talented Frenchman Matteo Baud have been flagging Anderson as a threat for the men’s individual event, which features one scored jump on the normal hill and a 6km cross-country ski race.

It may sound like madness to attempt to excel at such contrasting disciplines, but that is exactly what Anderson loves most about his sport.

“You need great endurance for cross-country and you need to be really skinny for ski jumping, very athletic and have a good feeling in your body for flying – that is the fascination of the sport,” he said.

The opposing demands of the two mean it is tricky to find the right fuel, as Anderson explains.

“You have to get your carbohydrates for the cross-country part because you can’t be too skinny or you will not have enough energy to run,” he said. “At the same time, you can’t be as heavy or muscly as the cross-country skiers. It is difficult.”

The 17-year-old first came to Nordic combined as a ski jumper and his passion for flying close to 100m through the air is clear.

“Small things decide a jump, like when your position before the jump isn’t right you can lose 5m or 6m in the jump,” he said. “It is difficult but that is the thing that is really fun about it.  When you get a jump right you are really, really happy.”

Eric Frenzel
Picture by 2018 Getty Images

As a German Nordic combined athlete Anderson has a lot to live up to. At the PyeongChang 2018 Olympic Winter Games his compatriots completed a clean sweep of gold medals, while the legendary Eric Frenzel (GER) also won the individual normal hill/10km gold at Sochi 2014.

Thankfully, he has been getting plenty of tips from the top.

“I have talked Fabian Riessle [PyeongChang 2018 team gold medallist], he said to enjoy the experience and go with the flow, don’t stress out too much,” Andersen revealed.

Thea Minyan Bjorseth
Picture by OIS

His compatriots Jenny Nowak and Emilia Goerlich are also ones to watch with women’s Nordic combined making its Youth Olympic Games debut. To reach the top step of the podium they will have to beat reigning junior world champion Ayane Miyazaki (JPN) as well as powerful Norwegian pair Gyda Westvold Hansen and Thea Minyan Bjorseth.

The Nordic mixed team event, taking place on the final day of the Games, is not to be missed. Teams of six will compete on the ski jumping normal hill before a 4x3.3km cross-country skiing relay.