Germans soar to victory in the team ski jump to take Austria’s Olympic crown
Germany won gold in a thrilling men’s team ski jumping competition on the large hill at RusSki Gorki Jumping Centre, denying Austria a third straight title in the event.
The German team quartet, made up of Severin Freund, Andreas Wellinger, Marinus Kraus and Andreas Wank, collected a total of 1041.1 points over the two rounds.
That placed them just 2.7 points ahead of defending Olympic champions Austria, who took the silver with 1038.4 points, and a Japanese team spearheaded by 41-year old Noriaki Kasai, who scored 1024.9 points.
In the final round, Germany and Austria remained neck-and-neck throughout, but it was the Germans who eventually prevailed.
Germany’s victory brought to an end Austria's remarkable unbeaten streak in the Olympic Games and world championships which stretched back to 2005, and ended their attempt to win three back-to-back Olympic titles.
Austria, whose quartet comprised Gregor Schlierenzauer, Thomas Morgenstern –veterans of the gold-winning team in Vancouver – along with by Thomas Diethart and Michael Hayboeck, had endured a mixed season coming into Sochi. And Schlierenzauer conceded that the silver was a good result.
“I'm happy with the medal. It's been hard these last days. We had some problems," said last season's overall World Cup winner.
“It was a hard fight. The teams are really strong, but a medal is always great and silver is very good,” he added.
Japan's Kasai, who returned to the scene of his individual large hill silver, secured two days earlier, was once again in inspired form, putting in a top jump of 134 metres to help Japan to its third Olympic team ski jumping medal, following silver in 1994 and a gold won in front of home crowds at Nagano 1998, both of which occasions featured Kasai.
Meanwhile, there was disappointment for Kamil Stoch, the newly crowned double Olympic champion in the men’s individual events.
The Pole had been seeking to equal Finnish jumper Matti Nykanen's clean sweep of individual and team ski jump golds, achieved at Calgary 1988.
“We fought to the end but it wasn't to be today,” said the current World Cup leader of the Polish team.