Nordic-com­bined

SkiTrax - - Out In Front -

The Pyeongchang 2018 Nordic-com­bined events be­gan on Feb. 14 with the Nor­mal Hill. These Olympics were dom­i­nated by the Ger­man squad, win­ning all three events while se­cur­ing five medals.

Franz-josef Rehrl of Aus­tria jumped 112.0 me­tres on the Nor­mal Hill, set­ting him 15 sec­onds ahead of his near­est com­peti­tor and 36 sec­onds to de­fend­ing cham­pion Eric Fren­zel of Germany. Bryan Fletcher was the top Amer­i­can go­ing into the ski, at 2:06 down.

In the cross-coun­try race, five lead­ers formed at the front. Fren­zel made sev­eral es­cape at­tempts, fi­nally go­ing clear on the last lap to win his sec­ond-straight gold. Pre-race favourite Ak­ito Watabe of Ja­pan was five sec­onds down, tak­ing home the sil­ver, as Fletcher fin­ished as the top Amer­i­can in 17th. No Cana­di­ans com­peted in the Nordic-com­bined events.

Cold, breezy con­di­tions met the ath­letes for the next event. Watabe set the stan­dard with a 134.0-me­tre jump on the Large Hill, but three Ger­mans sat omi­nously close, ranked fourth through sixth. Amer­i­cans Fletcher and Ben Berend sat 23rd and 24th, just over two min­utes back.

The trio of Ger­mans fought their way to the front, set­ting a fe­ro­cious pace in the lead pack. They even­tu­ally swept the podium, with Jo­hannes Ry­dzek win­ning gold. Mean­while, Fletcher fought his way into the teens, mov­ing as high up as 14th, but had to set­tle for an­other 17th fin­ish. He set the 10th-fastest time on the day.

The fi­nal Nordic-com­bined event was the 4x5km Team re­lay. Con­tain­ing two gold medal­ists, the Ger­man squad was the ob­vi­ous favourite, with skiers Ry­dzek, Fren­zel, Vinzenz Geiger and Fabian Rieble. But it was the Aus­trian team that qual­i­fied first with 469.5 points and started six sec­onds ahead. The Amer­i­can team scored a com­bined to­tal of 324.8 points, start­ing well over three min­utes back.

In the re­lay, Jan Sch­mid of Nor­way set the fastest open­ing lap, be­gin­ning a tense bat­tle for sec­ond place with Aus­tria. Fren­zel es­tab­lished the day’s quick­est time at 11:05.4 and se­cured the gold medal for Germany. On the last lap, Nor­way’s Jo­er­gen Graaback stormed past Aus­tria’s Mario Siedl to win the sil­ver. The Amer­i­can squad fin­ished 10th on the day.

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