Norway’s success in Kuusamo was furthered with a victory in the Nordic Combined relay. After an excellent morning of ski jumping, the team skated well in the afternoon, and won with a comfortable margin of 30 seconds over their closest rival Germany.
Magnus Krog led the Norwegians in jumping, flying 145 meters, a new personal best. His teammates, Grabbak, Kokslien, and Klemetsen, had big jumps as well, landing only 15 to 17 meters behind Krog’s jump, the biggest of the day.
Only Japan’s Yoshito Watabe could come close to matching Krog’s performance, landing just a half meter behind the Norwegians benchmark jump.
The Russian team continued their run of results in Kuusamo, with excellent jumping by all teammates to finishing third behind Norway and Japan in the jumping round.
The American’s did not have a good day on the jump, finishing in 12th, with a start time on the skiing leg 4:22 behind Norway.
Norway’s Haavard Klemetsen led the 5k cross country leg of the relay. He was chased 28 seconds later by Japan’s Taihei Kato, followed 20 seconds later by Russian Evgeniy Klimov.
Norway’s biggest threat to their race however came in the form of Germany’s first leg skier Bjoern Kircheisen, who started 48 seconds after Klemetsen and skied the fastest 5k leg of the day in 12:15.
Kircheisen nearly surpassed Klemetsen, and the two handed off nearly simultaneously. Manuel Faisst (GER) battled it out with Krog (NOR) to see who would take the lead, but late in race Krog was able to ski away from a tired Faisst to give his teammate Kosklien a 10 second advantage over Germany at the handoff. Johannes Rydzek (GER) could not match Kosklien over the course and lost yet another 10 seconds to Norway.
Joergen Graaback (NOR), skiing the anchor leg, had ample time at the end of his race to grab a Norwegian flag and savor the victory as he skied into the stadium.
Mikko Kosklien told FIS after his important third leg, “It was a really hard 5k, a tough one, so I was happy that Krog could give me the gap and then I started to try and increase the gap a little bit. For sure it was a nice feeling to see Joergen come through the finish.”
The Nordic Combined World Cup continues next weekend in Lillehammer.
– Pasha Kahn
Also: (from U.S. Ski Team press release)
U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team’s Taylor Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) posted the fastest time in his cross country anchor leg and moved up the pack to give the USA seventh in the 4x5k team event at the nordic combined World Cup season opener.
The Team started the relay in 12th after the team HS142 jumping portion earlier on Sunday.
The Norwegian team jumped into first place and held its lead throughout the relay.
The U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team, Taylor Fletcher, Bryan Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO), Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY), is starting the season after winning the first ever American medal in the team event at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy, last February.
The four U.S. athletes failed to qualify in the top 50 for the individual event on Saturday and did not compete. (Note: Demong was disqualified for equipment in the provisional round: ICR 18.104.22.168. German Erik Frenzel won the LH HS142/10 k competition by jumping to fourth and posting the ninth-fastest race time. He beat Norwegians Grabaak and Krog in second and third, by 3.5 and 6.9 seconds, respectively.)
Next the Team travels to Lillehammer, Norway for the nordic combined FIS World Cup on Dec. 7-8.
Results: Saturday’s individual LH/10 k | Sunday’s team event