Eric Frenzel repeats 2017 win in Trondheim
Eric Frenzel starts to really like the Norwegian venue of Trondheim and repeated his success from last year by beating World Cup leader Akito Watabe by one second. Fabian Rießle was the fastest of a big chasing group and out-sprinted teammate Johannes Rydzek and local hero Jørgen Graabak on the last metres. He finished 28.8 seconds behind winner and teammate Frenzel.
In the ski jumping part, Akito Watabe reigned supreme and won not only the Provisional Competition Round, which was held earlier in the day, but also the competition round. 132 metres and 139.5 points catapulted the World Cup leader to the pole position and gave him a 12-second head-start on runner-up, Franz-Josef Rehrl from Austria (135 m; 136.4 p.). Mario Seidl claimed the third intermediate spot with 135 metres, starting 23 second after Watabe.
Olympic Champion Eric Frenzel had a better jump again when it counted and captured the fourth starting position with a delay of 27 seconds. Local hero Jørgen Graabak had to contend with 46 seconds from the eighth position, while fellow Norwegian Magnus Krog turned heads with a stable jumping shape and the promising time behind of 53 seconds. World Cup runner up and crowd favourite Jan Schmid had to make up 58 seconds on Watabe on the tough 2 km loop.
In his second-but-last competition, American veteran Bryan Fletcher achieved a good start position as well with rank 15 and a delay of one minute and seven seconds. Olympic Champion Johannes Rydzek did not have a great jump for his standard and started with a delay of one minute and 20 seconds from position 21.
Watabe had to ski a lonely race for the first part until Eric Frenzel caught up with him by the 5.2 km point of the race but the German was tired by his efforts and had to gather his strength for most of the following laps. Watabe felt his opponent wavering and tried to open a gap on the last steep uphill on the last last. What first looked like a small success was history again in the next downhill when Frenzel cruised back up to Watabe on very good skis. In the end, Frenzel proved to be a stronger man in a finish line sprint and took the victory, his 43rd in total.
A pursuing group of twelve athletes spend most of their races together until a sharper pace in the last lap first eliminated Austria’s Lukas Greiderer and then USA’s Bryan Fletcher and Magnus Krog, Go Yamamoto, Mario Seidl, Jan Schmid, Francois Braud and Eero Hirvonen, who claimed the ranks twelve till six. Jørgen Graabak, Johannes Rydzek and Fabian Rießle sprinted for the remaining podium spot with Rießle taking the honours, leaving ranks four and five to Rydzek and Graabak.