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Georg Thoma and the start of a new era

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22 February 1960: a historic day for the international Nordic Combined. The Olympic Winter Games were being held at Squaw Valley (called Palisades Tahoe from 2021), and it was to be the first time when the gold medal would not go to a Norwegian or a Finn.

A day earlier, Georg Thoma had already signalled his ambition to win a medal with first place in the jumping event, followed by a fourth place in the 15 km cross-country race. The points awarded were enough to sensationally relegate Norwegian Tormod Knutsen to second place.

Surprising as it may have been, Thoma’s Olympic victory wasn’t a one-hit-wonder. An outstanding ski jumper, he went on to win the New Year's competition at the Four Hills Tournament in 1962 and triumph in the Nordic Combined event at the Holmenkollen Ski Games three times in a row (becoming the first Central European to do so in 1963). While Thoma was the flag bearer at the closing ceremony of the 1960 Games, he carried the German flag at the opening ceremony four years later. In Innsbruck he won another precious metal: bronze. In 1966 he became Nordic Combined World Champion in Oslo, ending his career on a high.

Throughout his years in the spotlight, Georg Thoma, the "shepherd boy from the Black Forest", was showered with honours and medals. The man who ushered in a new era in Nordic Combined remained loyal to Nordic winter sports even after his great successes. He remained active as a cross-country skier and cyclist, and also he founded the Black Forest Ski Museum in his home region. Housed in a 500-year-old historic building, the "Hugenhof", since the end of the last century it has been recognised as an official FIS museum.