By Philip O’Connor
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – Germany delivered a superb display of cross-country skiing to secure victory in the men’s Olympic team event on Thursday and complete a clean sweep of gold medals in the Nordic Combined events at the Games.
Norway overcame a poor performance in the ski jumping section to take the silver medal, 52.7 seconds behind the Germans, and Austria claimed the bronze.
Germany has dominated the Nordic Combined events in Pyeongchang, sweeping the podium in the large hill individual and Eric Frenzel winning the normal hill event.
“It was not so easy because in the beginning of the season we had problems on the jumping hill, but everybody here in Pyeongchang did a really good job and it was a really good teamwork today,” Frenzel told reporters.
Germany joined Finland as the only country to have won three gold medals in the sport at one Games. It was also Germany’s 13th gold in Pyeongchang, surpassing its record of 12 in 1998 and 2002.
Following the team ski jump, the cross-country started as a four-way fight for medals between leaders Austria, Germany, Japan and Norway.
Defending Olympic champions Norway had a poor showing in the ski jumping and started the cross-country skiing 27 seconds after leaders Austria.
“This championship maybe hasn’t been the best for us,” Norway’s Espen Andersen said. “But I think when you get a medal at the Olympics, you can’t complain about that.
“There have been ups and downs, but when you end like this with a medal, this is all you have to think about”.
The Austrian lead was short-lived with Vinzenz Geiger of Germany taking the lead and building up a gap of over 12 seconds to the chasing pack at the first exchange.
Fabian Riessle, one of three surviving members from the silver medal-winning team in Sochi four years ago, powered away on the second leg, increasing the German lead to 42 over his two laps of the course.
By the time Johannes Rydzek got the last leg underway the lead was up to a minute, and the real battle was for silver and bronze between Austria and Norway.
Rydzek glided over the line to take the gold, holding a German flag aloft, and Norway’s Joergen Grabbak saw off the challenge of Austria’s Mario Seidl to take silver.
“It’s a moment I will never forget to win a medal with this amazing team,” Seidl told reporters. “Just fantastic.”
(Additional reporting by James Pearson; Editing by Ed Osmond)