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.