Winter Olympics, Combined | The images that rolled across the screen from Norway of gold attract attention:
Espen Bjørnstad, Espen Andersen, Jens Lurås Oftebro and Jørgen Graabak went to gold in Thursday’s team competition during the Olympics in Chinese Beijing.
The battle for the gold lasted a long time between Norway, Germany, Austria and Japan, but Lurås Oftebro got the Norwegian team a hatch out on the last stage. Graabak, who has both gold and silver earlier from this Olympics, took good care of the lead he gained.
The quartet took Norway’s 14th gold in Beijing. It is breaking the record from the previous Winter Games in Pyeongchang. Canada won as many in 2010, no one has won more.
– It seems that this will be easier than even the biggest combined optimists could hope for, pointed out TVNorge commentator Asbjørn Myhre.
– They have hit the nail on the head with the race plan and tactics.
Missing on the podium: – Hard to see
With only 2.5 kilometers left, Norway was over 40 seconds ahead of the rival.
– It was less exciting than we could think, said expert Trond Nystad.
– The other teams have given up the gold, he said towards the end of the race.
Germany ended up in another place, but had a hard time keeping up with Norway along the way. Eric Frenzel in particular had problems on the third stage and was far behind the lead when he switched his teammate on the last stage.
Frenzel was among those who tested positive for the corona when the athletes arrived in Beijing and has been in isolation during much of their stay in China. The 33-year-old was so drunk that he did not stand with the other Germans during the flower ceremony.
– They gambled on Frenzel. He came out of isolation one day after Jarl Magnus Riiber and was going to go here. They had a Johannes Rydzek they were not used. With the decision in hand, it was probably a wrong choice, pointed out TVNorge expert Jan-Erik Aalbu.
– It hurts to see. He has probably gotten a real smell, said host Susanne Wergeland when the pictures of the flower ceremony rolled across the TV screen.
Aalbu: – I shit in it
Oftebro sent Graabak out with a gap of about ten seconds on the last stage and already there it seemed as if the other nations had given up the gold match.
– They went out ten seconds behind the world’s best cross-country skier in combined on the last stage. Shall we try on him? No, we do not bother. Then it was a scam. Norway had already won. I shit that it did not get exciting today, said Aalbu
Germany fought back to another place, while Japan took bronze. Austria, who were among the gold favorites beforehand, finished in a disappointing fourth place.
21-year-old Lurås Oftebro was only 13 years old when Jørgen Graabak won Olympic gold in Sochi eight years ago. Then he cheered from his future teammate in front of the TV screen. He recently posted a clip on Instagram, where he stands on the couch and cheers on Graabak.
– It does not feel like 8 years ago. It’s not long since I stood there and jumped. Being on the podium with him the other day and now actually standing at the top of the podium is incredibly fun. It’s a lot of fun for the whole team. We have trained an incredible amount together throughout the year and it has been a very good gathering program. We have pushed each other all the way and being able to stand on the podium together is absolutely fantastic, Oftebro tells TVNorge.
Slight trouble early
The Norwegian combined boys secured a brilliant starting point by becoming number two in the jumping part of the team competition. Only the Austrians were ahead of Norway and thus it was time for another drama when it all had to be decided on the cross-country part.
The Norwegian team with Espen Bjørnstad, Espen Andersen, Jens Lurås Oftebro and Jørgen Graabak went out just eight seconds behind Austria. Franz-Josef Rehrl provided Austria with a small gap initially on the first stage and when passing 2.5 kilometers, the Austrians were 19 seconds ahead. Norway, Germany and Japan followed in the group behind.
Bjørnstad, however, had some problems beyond the first stage and lost some contact with Germany and Japan, which had picked up in the back of Austria.
When changing, when Bjørnstad sent Espen Andersen out to the second stage, he had recovered a bit and Norway was only 4.6 seconds behind Germany, which now led.
The Austrians had World Cup leader Johannes Lamparter on the second stage, but Andersen kept an impressive following and at the halfway stage it was only half a second that separated Andersen from the Austrian who went ahead and pulled the four in front.
The 28-year-old, who represents Lommedalen IL, solved his stage in an excellent way and at the next change, Norway was well involved in the gold match, 1.3 seconds behind the leader.
Oftebro provided a hatch
Jens Lurås Oftebro, who took silver in the Gundersen race earlier in the Olympics, followed up Andersen’s good efforts and led the race by passing 12.5 kilometers. However, Austria, Japan and Germany did well and there was little that separated the four.
Oftebro took command in the last half of the stage and the Germans struggled to keep up. Austria and Japan also had to drop and Oftebro could thus send out Jørgen Graabak with a lead of 10.4 seconds down to Austria on the last stage.
Germany Vinzenz Geiger went on a real smell in the match against Oftebro and the others on the third stage and the Germans were a full 36.9 seconds behind at the last change.
Graabak pulled further away from the teams behind and one kilometer out on the decisive stage, the Norwegian lead was increased to 20.8 seconds down to Austria and Japan.
Trønderen also stood by when passing 17.5 kilometers and it became clear that none of those behind could threaten Norway. The others now seemed to focus on the second place.
With only 2.5 kilometers left, Graabak was over 40 seconds ahead of the others.
Towards the finish, there was a parade march for Graabak who secured Norwegian gold.