Team Norway rides the wave of success
After having two athletes on the podium yesterday, Haavard Klemetsen, Magnus Krog, Mikko Kokslien and Joergen Graabak won today's Nordic Combined team event at the Nordic Opening in Ruka. The Norwegian squad crossed the finish line a clear 30,7 seconds earlier than the team from Germany (Björn Kircheisen, Manuel Faisst, Johannes Rydzek and Eric Frenzel). The podium was completed by Team Japan, consisting of Taihei Kato, Yoshito Watabe, Hideaki Nagai and Akito Watabe.
In the ski jumping part, the Norwegian team impressively underlined their good shape from yesterday's individual event and won with a total of 523,4 points ahead of Team Japan (502,4) and Russia (491,6). Especially Magnus Krog helped secure the time advantage of 28 seconds with a new personal best of 145 metres. Graabak, Kokslien and Klemetsen complemented Krog's super jump with solid distances of 130, 127,5 and 130 metres.
In team Japan, jumping specialist Yoshito Watabe found back to old strength and set an equally impressive distance of 144,5 metres shortly after Krog. The Russian team still seems to be riding the wave of success from yesterday's competition and showed jumps on a constantly high level. Ivan Panin, Ernest Yahin, Niyaz Nabeev and Evgeniy Klimov jumped 126, 125, 121 and 131,5 metres which gave them an excellent position for the cross-country race, only 42 seconds behind Norway.
Last year's dominating team from Germany ranked fourth at the intermediate point with a managable time disadvantage of 48 seconds, Austria followed in fifth position with +1:06 and France on sixth with +1:28.
In the race, Klemetsen, Kato and Klimov went out on the track first, being chased by strong German cross-country skier Björn Kircheisen who managed to come dangerously close to the Norwegian leaders, setting the fastest time of the day with 12:15.9 for the 5 km. In the second group Manuel Faisst and Magnus Krog had an intense fight going on over almost all of the 5 kilometres until Krog could create a gap at the end and gain about 10 seconds. Johannes Rydzek did not stand a chance agains strong skier Mikko Kokslien and lost another 10 seconds on team Norway. On the last two laps, Joergen Graabak could ski the victory home comfortably and even had time to take a flag and check his watch for his cross-country time before crossing the finish line 30,7 seconds ahead of Frenzel.
The fights for the remaining podium ranks was on between Japan and France and on World Champion Jason Lamy Chappuis' lap, it looked like the French team was headed for the podium once more, but Hideaki Nagai and Akito Watabe conquered the lead back from Braud and Laheurte and claimed the Japanese podium rank.
You can find the result list here.
The next competitions are on at Lillehammer on the next weekend, where two Individual Gundersens are on schedule.