A great event culminated in a riveting final: Magnus Moan captured the first-ever Nordic Combined victory in Planica by just 0.1 seconds. In a Norwegian gala performance, Moan outsprinted Espen Andersen on the final stretch. Behind them, teammate Jan Schmid completed the triple victory by beating Austria’s Martin Fritz in a photo finish, just 0.6 seconds behind Moan.
Maxime Laheurte had a fantastic jump in the competition round and won with 137 metres and 133.3 points. This performance gave him a head start of 12 seconds on yesterday’s PCR winner Kristjan Ilves. Jan Schmid held the leading position for a long time during the round and ended up on the intermediate third position, with 28 seconds to catch up on leader Laheurte.
Laurent Muhlethaler, who bears the blue bib of the best jumper in the absence of the leading athletes, still showed an impressive performance with 133 metres and rank four, +0:33 behind teammate Laheurte. Martin Fritz and Espen Andersen started with time disadvantages of 35 and 41 seconds. Also in a promising position was Norway’s Magnus Moan. A jump of 130.5 metres put him in 13th position, with 59 seconds to catch up, a doable task for great roller-skier Moan. Local hero Vid Vrhovnik shone with 132.5 metres and the tenth position.
The race was an action packed affair on a very intricate and attractive course in Planica’s Nordic Centre. Maxime Laheurte held his lead for the first four laps of the race, while receiving a visit from number two, Kristjan Ilves. The Estonian, however, was not able to keep up the pace and dropped off again. In the end, he was even caught by a larger pursuing group and ended his race on the eleventh place only.
Laheurte lasted a while longer but ultimately, the advantages of skiing in a group paid off. Magnus Moan and Francois Braud skied together, bringing Jan Schmid, Espen Andersen, Martin Fritz, Laurent Muhlethaler, Yoshito Watabe and Tim Hug with them.
On the final lap, four athletes broke away from the big group that had formed: Moan, Andersen, Schmid and Fritz sprinted for the finish. In the end, the veteran edged out youngster Andersen by a few centimetres only and in the “second row” fighting for rank three, only a finish photo could tell the athletes apart. Also here, experience won over youth with Schmid capturing the remaining podium position.
The French team had a great team performance with Laheurte, Muhlethaler and Braud on ranks five, six and seven and Antoine Gerard and Jason Lamy Chappuis ranking 13 and 14. Tim Hug had another Top Ten result to show for on rank eight, Yoshito Watabe ninth and Jarl Riiber made up six positions on the track to finish tenth.