Norway hold off Germany for dramatic team win

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 20, 2014 6:59 AM

By David Ljunggren

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Norway scraped the narrowest of wins in a dramatic finish to the Olympic Nordic combined men's team event on Thursday, holding off Germany to grab the gold by just 0.3 seconds.

Coming into the stadium at the end of the 4 x 5 km cross-country relay race, Norway's Joergen Graabak was just ahead of Fabian Riessle.

Graabak had been in the same position during Tuesday's individual large hill event and then pulled away to win easily. When he tried the same move on Thursday, Riessle stuck with him, and Graabak barely found the strength to hold on.

"I saw behind me that Riessle was throwing his foot forward, but I was confident that I was first," said Graabak of the dramatic finish.

Defending champions Austria were third, 3.4 seconds behind the Norwegians.

The win capped an excellent Olympics for the Norwegian Nordic combined squad, who had already won gold and silver in the individual large hill and a bronze on the normal hill.

The performance by the Germans was admirable, given world number one Eric Frenzel was still suffering the after-effects of a virus.

German Riessle said Graabak was a strong competitor.

"It was a really hard race," he added. "We started slow at the beginning. Joergen is a great athlete. He did well."

The Germans had landed four solid jumps in the ski jumping section to earn a lead of seven seconds over Austria, and 25 ahead of the Norwegians, at the start of the relay.

Austria and Norway both quickly caught up, however, and the three leaders were together for virtually the entire race.

(Editing by Peter Rutherford)