Team Norway flawless in Chaux-Neuve
Norway was the strongest team at the World Cup in Chaux-Neuve today. A flawless performance on the jumping hill and the cross-country track lead to a clear victory by 13.1 seconds. Team Germany bounced back from a subpar jumping performance and claimed rank two. The Finnish team returned to a team event podium after eleven years with rank three (+20.5).
The jumping round was not easy for all athletes with windy, foggy and wet conditions limiting some performances. The team being able to cope best was Norway with all four athletes jumping over 100 metres. Jarl Riiber shone with 115 metres, the longest jump of the day (a shared value with Finland’s Ilkka Herola) but also Jan Schmid stepped up with 112 metres. With a point total of 455.4 the Norwegian team captured the pole position for the race.
Team Finland was second with 407.9 points and followed with a disadvantage of one minute and three seconds. The French home team delighted the audience with a total of 382.5 points and the intermediate third position, starting one minute and 37 seconds after the leaders from Norway. The team from Austria had originally held the second place but after the last jumper, Willi Denifl, was disqualified due to an irregular suit, the team fell back to the seventh position, +3:17 after the leaders.
The German team also struggled with the conditions and started their race from position four, with a time behind of one minute and 43 seconds after jumps of 86.5, 103, 105 and 109.5 metres.
Norway skied a lonely race at the head of the field and neither Schmid, Andersen, Riiber nor Graabak were ever in danger of being caught by the other teams. A hard fight erupted for the remaining podium positions, however, with Finland, Germany and the local heroes from France vying for the positions. Antoine Gerard made the crowd go wild when he exchanged first of these pursuers on the first leg of the race and Francois Braud, Fabien Rießle and Arttu Mäkiaho skied together for most of the second leg
Youngster Mäkiaho lost a few seconds towards the end of his 5 km but Ilkka Herola closed the gap again on the first of his two laps. Unfortunately for the home team, Maxime Laheurte lost connection to Johannes Rydzek and Herola on the third leg and even legend Jason Lamy Chappuis was not able to close this gap anymore, so that the French team had to be satisfied with position four in the end.
While Jørgen Graabak celebrated the Norwegian victory, Vinzenz Geiger kept his cool and had a strong finish for the German team to shake off Eero Hirvonen on the last metres of the race. Still, the young Finnish team could be proud of their result, the first Finnish team podium since a victory in Val di Fiemme in early 2007. The Japanese team finished fifth, Italy sixth, Austria seventh and Poland eighth.