The Norwegian team won gold in the large hill/4x5km team event in the last Nordic Combined competition of the 2022 Winter Olympic program. The quartet of Espen Bjoernstad, Espen Andersen, Jens Luraas Oftebro and Joergen Graabak finished in 50:45.1.
Norway’s Anderson performed a final jump that started the Norwegians in second, eight seconds behind the Austrians in the cross-country skiing phase. Anderson had better technique than Austria’s Franz-Josef Rehrl, but was eight meters shy. He jumped to 133.5m to earn 119.7 points. The Norwegians came away from the large hill with a total of 469.4 points.
10 teams of four athletes competed in the event. In the ski jumping phase, each athlete jumped once and a teams’ total points were calculated from adding up the scores from each team member. The teams started skiing in a staggered fashion based on the difference of scores. Each athlete skied two laps of 2.5km.
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Germany’s Vinzenz Geiger took silver and crossed the line 54.9 seconds behind Norway. They are the first nation to win a medal in six consecutive Nordic combined large hill/4x5km team events.
Japan started the cross-country race in fifth, 15 seconds behind first place Austria. From the efforts of brothers Yoshito Watabe and Akito Watabe, Japan rounded out the podium 55.2 seconds later to win bronze. The Japanese managed to maintain contact with the first chase group for the entirety of the race. This was the first time they earned a spot on the podium since 1994.
There was a moment when Norway’s Andersen fell to fourth in the second leg of the race and it looked like he would displace his team off the podium. In Graabak’s anchor leg, he brought back hope and raced to first almost a minute before Germany.
Graabak is the first athlete to win the large hill/10km and large hill/4x5km team event twice at the same Olympics. He is also the only athlete to ever win four Olympic Winter Games’ golds in Nordic combined, bringing his Olympic medal tally to six gold medals.
Jarl Magnus Riiber of Norway was expected to compete in the team event, but suddenly took a flight home on Thursday right before the race. He was one and done after his tragic run in the large hill/10km event just two days prior when he effectively wiped out his 44 second potential gold medal lead after taking the wrong turn on the course.
The Austrians led the ski jumping phase with 475.4 points, and started the cross-country skiing first. Their team could not catch the first chase group and fell off the podium in fourth, crossing the line 59.6 later. Johannes Lamparter could not live up to his billing as the reigning World Cup champion. Austria was able to find great height and distance off of the ramp, but lacked endurance for the skiing phase.
The large hill/5x4km team event brought the Nordic combined program at the 2022 Winter Olympics to a close.
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