By Philip O’Connor
PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (Reuters) – Robert Johansson soared through the night air to land a spectacular final leap that sealed victory for Norway in the men’s ski jumping team event at the Alpensia resort on Monday.
The Norwegians, who scored 1,098.5 points in total, were dominant throughout en route to their second ski jumping gold of the Games. Germany finished 22.8 points behind to take silver and Poland claimed the bronze.
The Norwegians took a slender lead into the final round, two points ahead of the Germans and five clear of the Poles.
The three leaders illustrated the gulf in class to the rest, leap-frogging ahead of each other in a tense final that provided a superb showcase for the sport.
Daniel Tande Andre opened up a gap for with the first of Norway’s four jumps in the final, scoring 145.5 points for the world champions and forcing Poland and Germany to play catch-up.
The Norwegians sensed their time had come and Andreas Stjernen added 139.8 points with their next jump to put even more daylight between them and the chasing pair.
Richard Freitag put the Germans back in contention for the silver medal, but whatever hope they had of gold was almost completely snuffed out when Johann Andre Forfang landed his jump to keep Norway firmly in the lead.
The see-saw battle continued as Andreas Wellinger restored Germany’s lead before a surprisingly tame jump from World Cup leader and individual large hill gold medalist Kamil Stoch left the Germans ahead of Poland in the race for silver.
The stage was set for Johansson, his trademark handlebar mustache visible beneath his goggles, and the 27 year-old, who won bronze in both the normal and large hill individual events, soared through the crisp night air to claim a well-deserved Olympic gold medal.
“I could see on the top that we had 22 points on Poland before the last jump, and that made me a bit calmer. But anyway, the nerves are coming more and more as its closing in on your jump,” Johansson told a news conference.
“I just tried to calm myself down and tell myself that I’m good enough to deliver what it took. Nervous, but a fantastic feeling afterwards,” he added.
Johansson is hoping his third medal of the Games spurs him on to even greater things.
“It means a lot for the motivation for the upcoming season and what’s left of this one. It’s way over what I could have expected in my first Olympics,” he said.
(Reporting by Philip O’Connor, editing by Ed Osmond)