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Nordic Combined at the 1968 Grenoble Winter Games:

Men's Individual

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Events:
Phases:

Host City: Grenoble, France
Venue(s): , Autrans; , Autrans
Date Started: February 10, 1968
Date Finished: February 12, 1968
Format: Normal hill ski jumping and 15 kilometres skiing; placements determined by points table.

Gold: FRG Franz Keller
Silver: SUI Alois Kälin
Bronze: GDR Andreas Kunz

Summary

None of the first six from the 1964 Winter Olympics Nordic Combined event was present in 1968. The 1964 gold medalist Tormod Knutsen had left competitive sport after his Olympic triumph, and 1960 champion Georg Thoma had ended his impressive career by winning gold at the 1966 World Championships in Oslo. The favorites for the 1968 Olympic title were the silver medalist from the 1966 World Championships, Thoma’s 23-year old teammate Franz Keller and the bronze medalist from the same championships, Switzerland’s Alois Kälin. The two rivals had different specialities. Keller was an average cross-country skier, but an excellent ski jumper, while Kälin was an excellent skier, placing 20th in the 1964 Olympic 50 km, where he was also 12th in the Nordic Combination, and he was a regular member of the Swiss 4x10 km relay team. Kälin was one of the few athletes competing in both cross-country and Nordic Combined at an international level.

In the first part of the Nordic Combined event, ski jumping, Keller showed excellent form and won with the longest jump of the day, 77.5 metres, achieved in the second round. His victory could have been clearer if he had not fallen on his third jump, which measured 77 m. An unknown Japanese, Hiroshi Itagaki, placed second and Erwin Fiedor, 14th in the 1964 games, was third. Fiedor was known as a rather mediocre cross-country skier, and Itagaki’s cross-country abilities were unknown. Kälin placed 24th out of 41 competitors and had to beat Keller by almost 3½ minutes in the 15 km cross-country phase, leaving Keller as the undisputed favorite for the gold medal.

In the skiing Kälin had the advantage of starting as number 40, Keller wearing start number 33. The starting time difference between the two was 3:30, almost exactly the time Kälin had to beat Keller to beat him in total points. It turned out to be a most dramatic duel. After 5 km, Kälin had gained 1:03 on his rival, but at the 10 km point he had gained 2:40, and Keller was only 50 seconds ahead of Kälin on the track. Could the Swiss take back 50 more seconds on the last 5 km? He fought gallantly, but in vain, passing the finishing line exactly 6.3 seconds behind Keller! East Germany’s Andreas Kunz secured the bronze medal, advancing from 10th position after the ski jumping after having the third fastest time in the cross-country. Fourth was the Czechoslovakian teenager Tomáš Kučera, and with an Italian in 5th and a Pole in sixth place it was obvious that the Nordic Combined was no longer a Nordic affair. The best Norwegian placed 21st, while the best of the Finns ended in 30th place.

East Germany’s Ralph Pöhland had placed 4th in the 1966 World Championships and was expected to be one of the heavy favorites. After winning a pre-Olympic competition in Le Brassus, Switzerland in mid-January 1968, he defected to West Germany with the help of Georg Thoma. He was denied a start for West Germany in the Olympics by a decision of the FIS council, after strong political pressure from East Germany and the Soviet Union. A few days after the Olympics he won the West German championships, with Olympic Champion Keller in second place, and at the 1972 Games represented West Germany, placing 10th.

Final Standings

Rank Athlete Age Team NOC Medal PTS
1 Franz Keller 23 West Germany FRG Gold 449.04
2 Alois Kälin 28 Switzerland SUI Silver 447.99
3 Andreas Kunz 21 East Germany GDR Bronze 444.10
4 Tomáš Kučera 19 Czechoslovakia TCH 434.14
5 Ezio Damolin 23 Italy ITA 429.54
6 Józef Gąsienica 26 Poland POL 428.78
7 Robert Makara 19 Soviet Union URS 426.92
8 Vyacheslav Dryagin 27 Soviet Union URS 424.38
9 Roland Weißpflog 25 East Germany GDR 424.30
10 Hiroshi Itagaki 22 Japan JPN 414.65
11 Karl-Heinz Luck 23 East Germany GDR 414.02
12 Tõnu Haljand 22 Soviet Union URS 412.68
13 John Bower 27 United States USA 411.16
14 Günther Naumann 26 West Germany FRG 410.89
15 Józef Gąsienica Daniel 22 Poland POL 407.76
16 Ladislav Rygl 20 Czechoslovakia TCH 407.28
17 Fabio Morandini 22 Italy ITA 398.26
18 Erwin Fiedor 24 Poland POL 395.93
19 Mikhail Artyukhov 24 Soviet Union URS 391.90
20 Jan Kawulok 22 Poland POL 387.91
21 Mikkel Dobloug 23 Norway NOR 387.22
22 Georg Krog 21 United States USA 383.76
23 Akemi Taniguchi 30 Japan JPN 383.14
24 Katsutoshi Okubo 24 Japan JPN 382.23
25 Alfred Winkler 24 West Germany FRG 381.59
26 Jim Miller 20 United States USA 378.38
27 Markus Svendsen 26 Norway NOR 377.85
28 Kåre Olav Berg 23 Norway NOR 375.60
29 Hans Rudhardt 22 West Germany FRG 374.74
30 Ilpo Nuolikivi 25 Finland FIN 364.28
31 Masatoshi Suto 22 Japan JPN 359.03
32 Ulli Öhlböck 19 Austria AUT 358.00
33 Esa Klinga 28 Finland FIN 356.74
34 Waldemar Heigenhauser 28 Austria AUT 356.69
35 Helmut Voggenberger 24 Austria AUT 341.97
36 Raimo Majuri 24 Finland FIN 338.28
37 Émile Salvi 31 France FRA 332.38
38 Jean-Marie Bourgeois 28 France FRA 325.90
39 Tom Upham 24 United States USA 325.17
40 Gjert Andersen 20 Norway NOR 323.69
41 Gervais Poirot 25 France FRA 315.98