WRAP: Germany wins Nordic Combined gold but Norway has the last laugh
24 February 2014
NORDIC COMBINED: Germany's Eric Frenzel won the Olympic gold medal that everyone had predicted but Norway claimed Nordic Combined honours at the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games by winning two of the three gold medals.
Joergen Graabak (NOR), left out of Norway's team for the first event on the normal hill, returned for the large hill events with spectacular results. He led a Norwegian 1-2 in the LH/10km individual and anchored Norway's gold-medal winning team in the LH/4x5km two days later.
In both events, Graabak survived a dramatic sprint finish at the end of the cross country phase to see off the Germans and prevail.
Overall, Norway and Germany dominated the three Nordic combined events at RusSki Gorki Jumping Centre, winning seven of the nine medals.
Frenzel entered the Games as the favourite to win both individual events, and he responded suoperby to claim gold in the NH/10km individual.
The 25-year-old World Cup leader won the Ski Jumping phase and skied with Akito Watabe (JPN) for the entire cross country race before making his move as they entered the stadium to win his first Olympic gold. Watabe won silver and Magnus Krog (NOR) took bronze.
Frenzel was favoured to win a second gold in the LH/10km but he was struck down by a virus between the two individual events and was not at his best for the rest of the competition.
However, he still won the Ski Jumping phase again in the LH/10km and was part of a 10-man lead pack that featured all four Germans and three of the four Norwegians for virtually the entire cross country race.
In the last 500m, two Norwegians and three Germans broke away from the group to set up a five-man sprint finish.
Graabak and Magnus Hovdal Moan (NOR) emerged from the sprint with gold and silver, while Fabian Riessle (GER) outlasted his teammates for bronze.
The team event was predictably a battle between Norway and Germany, though Austria threatened to gatecrash the party with a strong performance on the Ski Jumping hill and the Cross Country track.
After Germany won the Ski Jumping phase, Austria (+0:07) and Norway (+0:25) quickly caught up in the first leg of the relay and the three NOCs skied together for almost the entire 20km Cross Country race.
Graabak led the pack for most of the fourth leg and then survived another sprint finish to give Norway victory by 0.3 seconds over Germany. Austria won bronze, three seconds further adrift.
Both Moan, who won two medals, and Mario Stecher (AUT), who won one, finish the Games with four career Olympic medals, which is joint third on the all-time Nordic Combined list.