Graabak wins gold in Nordic combined large hill

Published on NewsOK Modified: February 18, 2014 at 8:34 am •  Published: February 18, 2014
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KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) — It had been a long time coming for Norway, the birthplace of Nordic combined.

Joergen Graabak took gold and Magnus Moan the silver in the large hill event Tuesday at the Sochi Olympics, giving Norway its first one-two finish in a Nordic combined event in 78 years.

Norway has the most Olympic medals in the sport — 12 — but Graabak's win was the country's first since Nagano 1998, when Bjarte Engen Vik won the individual and team events.

Graabak, who was initially left out of Norway's Olympic squad, then added as a large hill specialist, broke away from a five-man group with about 100 meters left in the cross-country race.

In steady rain, Graabak finished six-tenths of a second ahead of Moan. Fabian Riessle of Germany was 1.6 seconds behind and took the bronze.

Normal hill gold medal winner Eric Frenzel of Germany was an uncertain starter due to a virus, but led after the ski jumping. He faded badly, however, in the 10-kilometer cross-country ski race to finish 10th.

Norway had not won gold and silver in a Nordic combined event since Oddbjorn Hagen and Olaf Hoffsbakken did it in the normal hill event at Garmish-Partenkirchen in Germany in 1936.

Graabak finished sixth in the ski jumping portion and started 42 seconds after Frenzel, but quickly made up the deficit with the German unable to hold his lead for long.

"It's pretty obvious how I feel," the 22-year-old Norwegian said. "It's a bit surreal. I will need time to enjoy the moment. My tactic was to ski well and hopefully to stay with the top guys."

He finished in a time of 23 minutes, 27.5 seconds on the course adjacent to the hill complex at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center.

Moan won Olympic silver and bronze in the individual events at Turin in 2006.

"Honestly, on the last hill I didn't feel that I had the same legs as usual, Moan said. "I'm happy to be back on the podium ... this means that I still have something to do in this game."

Akito Watabe of Japan, who won silver behind Frenzel in the normal hill, was sixth, followed by Jason Lamy Chappuis of France, the normal hill gold medal winner from Vancouver in 2010. Lamy Chappuis was among a 10-man pack that alternated the lead for much of the race.

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