Graabak grabs even more gold

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Norway’s Jørgen Graabak held off Germany in a sprint to the finish line, securing the top podium position in the Nordic Combined Team Large Hill event at the Sochi Olympics on Thursday. It marked Norway’s 10th gold medal during the Winter Games, and only the second time Norway has won gold in the event that involves a large hill ski jump and a 20-kilometer cross-country relay.

Norway's team of ski jumpers and racers was ecstatic after winning the country's 10th gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Sochi on Thursday. PHOTO: EPA/HENDRIK SCHMIDT/NTB Scanpix

Norway’s team of ski jumpers and racers was ecstatic after winning the country’s 10th gold medal at the Winter Olympics in Sochi on Thursday. From left: Magnus Moan, Magnus Krog, Hårvard Klemetsen and Jørgen Graabak. PHOTO: EPA/HENDRIK SCHMIDT/NTB Scanpix

The large hill jump was held first on Thursday morning. Magnus Moan started for Norway and jumped 125.5 metres, putting the Norwegians in third position with 114.8 points. Magnus Krog kept the team in third, taking the total points to 222.2 from a 124.5 metre jump. Norway dropped back to fourth with 332.6 points after a disappointing 123 metre jump from Graabak.

The team’s greatest chance in the jumping was 35-year-old veteran Håvard Klemetsen and he didn’t disappoint, laying down a monster 137.5 metre jump to put Norway in first position with a team score of 462.8. By the end of the jumping round the team was placed third behind Germany and Austria. That meant Germany had a head start going into the first five-kilometer cross country relay stage, with Austria starting seven seconds later and the Norwegians after 25 seconds.

Moan took the first leg in a bid to secure the lead before the team’s weakest skier, Klemetsen, took the second stage. Moan started strongly and caught Germany and Austria after 1.5 kilometres, but he couldn’t shake his competitors off and all three made the first exchange together. Norwegian Broadcasting (NRK) warned Klemetsen could cost the team 30 seconds, but the fears were unfounded. He stayed with the leaders’ pack for his entire stage, then made a run in the final metres to tag in Krog in first position.

Krog held onto the lead but there was nothing in it when Norway, Germany and Austria made the final exchange. Krog tagged in anchor Graabak just 0.4 seconds ahead of Germany, with the Austrians right on their heels. It was neck and neck throughout the stage, before Norway and Germany surged ahead when the men entered the stadium for the home straight. Graabak and German Fabian Riessle sprinted to the line, with Graabak triumphing for Norway just 0.3 seconds ahead of Germany. Austria took bronze.

10th Sochi gold
The team was ecstatic after securing Norway’s 10th gold medal of the Sochi Games and securing the country’s stop back at the top of the medals’ haul.

“I’m just so proud of what I delivered, what Håvard delivered and what everyone delivered,” said a tearful Moan to Olympic broadcaster TV2 after the race. “It’s completely insane.”

“Klemetsen was the man of the day, I have never seen him fitter and the jump was fantastic,” Fred Børre Lundberg told NRK. Lundberg, who lives with star skier Marit Bjørgen, was one of Norway’s last Nordic Combined gold medalists at the 1998 Nagano Games. He described Klemetsen’s racing stage as “his best cross country ski ever”. Woodgate