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Virus hampers runaway favourite

17 February 2014

NORDIC COMBINED: The Nordic Combined Large Hill 10km competition has been dealt a blow, with German Eric Frenzel in doubt for the event after spending the last two days in bed with a fever.

It leaves Tuesday's competition wide open as Frenzel was tipped to head home with gold, having won the Normal Hill event last week.

The current leader in the World Rankings by a massive margin of 325 points, Frenzel fell ill with a virus on Saturday night and has not trained since.

The German Team doctor will not decide until the morning of competition whether Frenzel will race.

Coach Herman Weinbuch said Frenzel’s chances were not good.

"I think there is little chance he will compete," Weinbuch said.

"It's very hard to race here so he must be strong. You are only a chance when you have all your power."

American athlete Taylor Fletcher said Frenzel’s potential absence would have a huge impact.

"Eric's been dominating all year, he's been jumping out of his mind," he said.

 "It's like starting the Superbowl without your quarterback."

The hot favourite heading into the event is now Japan’s Akito Watabe, who finished second to Frenzel in the normal hill event, just 4.2 seconds behind.

The 25-year-old is in peak form, currently sitting second in the World Rankings.

Normal Hill bronze medallist Magnus Krog leads a strong Norwegian contingent who could challenge for medals, including Haarcvard Klemetsen and Magnus Hovdal Moan.

The 2011 World Champion in this event, France’s Jason Lamy Chappuis is also tipped for a podium finish. Chappuis has won a medal in all three Large Hill World Championship events since 2009, but is out to beat his last Olympic appearance of 18th in Vancouver.

The Individual Large Hill event has been held at five Winter Olympic Games and has never been won by an athlete from the same country, with France, Norway, Finland, Austria and the USA all claiming gold over the years.

The men's team event two days later will be the final Olympic competition at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Centre.

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