Felix Gottwald given top honour in Salzburg

Austrian Nordic combined athlete Felix Gottwald, 37, has been given the Ehrenzeichen honorary medal of Salzburg for his sporting achievements.

He was born in Zell am See, and now lives in Salzburg, and was an Austrian Nordic combined athlete from 1994 to 2007 and then returned to compete in 2009, including the Olympics.

After the Olympic season he added another one, and with his victories in Kuusamo (November 27, 2010) and Schonach (January 8, 2011) he became the oldest winner of a nordic combined competition.

Gottwald made his Olympic debut as an 18 year old in the 15 km individual event at the 1994 Winter Olympics, then competed in the 4 x 5 km team and 15 km individual events at the 1998 Winter Olympics. Gottwald won bronze medals in the 7.5 km sprint, 15 km individual and 4 x 5 km team Nordic combined events at the 2002 Winter Olympics. Coming into the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, he had regularly ranked among the top three in the world. He won golds in the 7.5 km sprint and 4 x 5 km team competitions, and took silver in the 15 km individual. At the 2010 Winter Olympics, Gottwald won gold in the 4 x 5 km team event. He is the most decorated Nordic combined skier at the Winter Olympics with seven medals.

Gottwald topped the World Cup standings in 2001, and was a member of the Austrian team that won gold at the 2003 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. Eight years later, at the 2011 World Championships in Oslo, he was again part of the Austrian team that became team world champion both in the normal hill and in the large hill competition. He also has two silvers (4 x 5 km team: 2001, 15 km individual: 2003) and six bronzes (15 km individual: 2001, 2005, 7.5 km sprint: 2003, normal hill: 2011, 4 x 5 km team: 1997, 2005) from the World Championships. So he is also the most decorated Nordic combined skier at World Championships with eleven medals.

Gottwald also has won twice at the Holmenkollen ski festival in the Nordic combined (2001, 2003 individual). He also won the Holmenkollen medal in 2003 (shared with Ronny Ackermann).

He was given his award by Salzburg governor Gabi Burgstaller.