Germany made it three Nordic combined gold medals out of three at PyeongChang 2018, with the quartet of Vinzenz Geiger, Fabian Reissle, Eric Frenzel and Johannes Rydzek easing to victory in the in the men’s team large hill/4x5km event, held at the Alpensia Ski Jumping Centre and Alpensia Cross-Country Centre on Thursday 22 February.
Austria (Wilhelm Denifl, Lukas Klapfer, Bernhard Gruber and Mario Seidl) led after the ski-jumping round, totalling 469.5 points, with Germany second on 464.7, Japan (Yoshito Watabe, Hideaki Nagai, Go Yamamoto and Akito Watabe) third on 455.3 and defending champions Norway (Jan Schmid, Espen Andersen, Jarl Magnus Riiber and Joergen Graabak) lying fourth on 449.2.
That equated to a six-second lead for the Austrians over the Germans at the start of the cross-country section, with Japan a further 13 seconds back and Norway starting 27 seconds behind the leaders.
Geiger quickly closed the gap on Watabe as the cross-country race got under way and then broke clear to open up a large lead. Reissle, a silver medallist in the individual large hill/10 km on 20 February, then took German’s advantage out to 45 seconds, while Japan, Austria and Norway bunched up in a tight battle for silver, though the Japanese would fall away in the closing stages to miss out on a medal.
Germany by a distance
Frenzel, who won the individual normal hill/10 km competition on 14 February, had stretched the lead to a minute by the time he handed over to Rydzek, the individual large hill/10 km gold medallist, who cruised to the line to give Germany an emphatic victory. Finishing 52.7 seconds behind Rydzek, Graabak outpaced Seidl to clinch the silver for Norway, with the Austrians maintaining their record of having finished on every Olympic Nordic combined team podium since Salt Lake City 2002.
“It wasn’t so easy because we had problems on the jumping hill at the start of the season, but everybody here in PyeongChang did a really good job and it was really good teamwork today,” said Frenzel after picking up a joint-record third Olympic gold medal in Nordic combined and a sixth Olympic medal in the discipline all. “It was an incredible day for all of us, especially after Sochi when we just missed out by a narrow margin.”
“I was able to enjoy the cross-country part because my team-mates did an amazing job,” added Rydzek. “It’s so much fun to win together.”
“It’s really important and it’s a good feeling for all of us and the whole team,” said Norway’s Graabak on his team’s silver. “We’ve had fourth places in both individual competitions [Jarl Magnus Riiber finished just out of the medals in both the normal hill/10 km and the large hill/10 km]. It’s a relief to take the silver on such a great day. Everybody did a good job on the jumping hill and also had a good race with the skis. It was a good day for us.”
“It’s a moment I will never forget, to win a medal with this amazing team,” said Austrian anchor Seidl. “The finish line was special for me because it was the first time I’ve raced last in a team competition. It was amazing.”