Lahti's Team Sprint victory goes to Norway I
With the season 2013/14 nearing its end, the last Team Sprint of the winter was on schedule in Lahti today and the victory was snagged by Team Norway I. Håvard Klemetsen and Jørgen Graabak were best after their two jumps and two times 7.5 kilometres of cross-country skiing and crossed the finish line 1.2 seconds ahead of Team Germany I (Frenzel/Rydzek). The last remaining spot on the podium was taken up by Francois Braud and Sebastian Lacroix from France. They finished 24.4 seconds after the winners.
Rydzek/Frenzel set themselves up in a promising position after the ski jumping part. With two jumps of 121 and and 116 metres, the Germans lead with a total point score of 227.2 points. Olympic champions Jørgen Graabak and Håvard Klemetsen were hot on their heels with 223.1 points which meant only 8 seconds of time disadvantages for the start of the race. The second German team consisting of Björn Kircheisen and Tino Edelmann claimed an intermediate third rank with two jumps of 108 and 116 metres. In the cross-country race this meant that they started 40 seconds behind their leading teammates Rydzek/Frenzel.
The fight for the third place was on between Germany II and three other teams who all ranked within a time disadvantage of +0:40 till +0:51: France I (Lacroix/Braud), Austria I (Schneider/Bieler) and Norway II (Kjelbotn/Schmid) all had chances to go for the podium.
During the race, though, it became clear quite quickly that the fight for podium places would only be between Norway I and Germany I for the victory and France I and Germany II for the third place. On their first respective legs of the race, Klemetsen and Graabak held some distance to the leading Germans who looked very strong at first and could increase their head start to about 15 seconds. In the second part of the race, the Norwegians started taking second after second and finally, Haavard Klemetsen caught up with Eric Frenzel on his second-but-last lap. With a coolness befitting an Olympic champion, Graabak overtook Rydzek on the following lap and skied the victory in the finish in the end, not giving Rydzek any chance in the sprint for the finish line.
Behind the leading duo, France and Germany II first worked together to keep the advancing Italian team with lightning-fast skier Alessandro Pittin at bay. In the end, Sebastien Lacroix had the better end in the race for the finish line, beating out Germany's Edelmann and Pittin, claiming another podium rank for the French team even without French superstar Jason Lamy Chappuis who had stayed home this weekend. The other Top Ten ranks went to Norway II (Schmid/Kjelbotn), the Czech Republic (Portyk/Dvorak), Finland I (Leinonen/Vähäsöyrinki), Austria I (Bieler /Schneider) and Slovenia (Berlot/Jelenko).
In the Nations Cup, Germany and Norway rank one and two but with only a 27-point difference (Germany 3546, Norway 3519) ahead of Austria with 2349, so the fight for this Team ranking will be on full force on the last two remaining weekends.