A long ascent to the summit
Félix Gottwald is an Austrian Nordic combined specialist. He made his first appearance on the World Cup circuit in 1993. The following year, he entered the national combined team for the Lillehammer Olympic Games. He ended up with honourable 9th and 37th places. In 1998, he stood on his first World Cup podium, and, several weeks later, competed in the Nagano Games. He had the second best time in the individual cross-country event, but had to be satisfied with 21st place due to a completely failed jump. In the relay, the Austrians remained at the foot of the podium, with a frustrating fourth place.
Three bronze medals
I was not until 2000 that the athlete from Zell Am See won his first World Cup race. In 2001, he was the season’s most reliable athlete, adding the general ranking to his achievements. At the 2002 Games in Salt Lake City, Félix Gottwald was one of the masters of the discipline. Three bronze medals, in sprint, individual and team, were somewhat eclipsed by the three Olympic titles won by Finland’s Samppa Lajunen. The best years for Félix Gottwald were 2001 and 2002, when he achieved 22 podium finishes, including 12 times in first place.
Gold, finally – twice!
At the 2006 Games in Turin, Félix Gottwald participated in his fourth edition of the Games. He was meticulously prepared, and this time the gold medal was within his reach. He first won a silver medal in the individual race, despite a mediocre jump, and went on to become Olympic champion with his teammates, Gruber Bieler and Stecher. A few days later, he competed in the sprint event. In only 12th place after the jump, he overtook all his opponents in the cross-country round to establish himself as champion. Félix Gottwald won his second gold, his sixth Olympic medal.
Going away to come back stronger
The Austrian retired for the first time at the end of the 2006/2007 season, after 15 years at the highest level. Was it the love of Nordic combined or the lure of the Games that made him change his mind? In any event, he resumed his sports career in 2009, aiming to participate for the fifth time in the Games, in Vancouver. Although the individual races did not go his way, he managed to find a new dynamic with his teammates, Gruber, Kreiner and Stecher. In third place after the jump, the Austrians slowly climbed to the top of the leader board in the cross-country event. As the third man in the relay, Félix Gottwald took the lead, pushing his teammate towards the finish line. From the trackside, he saw his partner prevent the other teams from making a comeback. At the finish line, he collapsed into the arms of his partners, as, together, they had retained their title of Olympic champions. With this seventh accolade, Félix Gottwald became the most successful Nordic combined athlete ever!