Norway soars to victory in team ski jumping event

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — Robert Johansson soared through the night air to land a spectacular final leap that sealed victory for Norway in the men’s ski jumping team event at the Alpensia resort on Monday, Feb. 19.

The Norwegians, who scored 1,098.5 points in total, were dominant throughout en route to their second ski jumping gold of the Games. Germany finished 22.8 points behind to take silver and Poland claimed the bronze.

The Norwegians took a slender lead into the final round, two points ahead of the Germans and five clear of the Poles.

The three leaders illustrated the gulf in class to the rest, leap-frogging ahead of each other in a tense final that provided a superb showcase for the sport.

Daniel Tande Andre opened up a gap for with the first of Norway’s four jumps in the final, scoring 145.5 points for the world champions and forcing Poland and Germany to play catch-up.

The Norwegians sensed their time had come and Andreas Stjernen added 139.8 points with their next jump to put even more daylight between them and the chasing pair.

The stage was set for Johansson, his trademark handlebar mustache visible beneath his goggles, and the 27 year-old, who won bronze in both the normal and large hill individual events, soared through the crisp night air to claim a well-deserved Olympic gold medal.

“I could see on the top that we had 22 points on Poland before the last jump, and that made me a bit calmer. But anyway, the nerves are coming more and more as its closing in on your jump,” Johansson told a news conference.

“I just tried to calm myself down and tell myself that I’m good enough to deliver what it took. Nervous, but a fantastic feeling afterwards,” he added.

Johansson is hoping his third medal of the Games spurs him on to even greater things.

“It means a lot for the motivation for the upcoming season and what’s left of this one. It’s way over what I could have expected in my first Olympics,” he said.

Norway’s Lorentzen edges Korean in photo finish

Norwegian Havard Lorentzen struck gold in the men’s 500 meters speed skating at the Gangneung Oval on Monday after edging out South Korea’s Cha Min-kyu in a dramatic photo finish.

After Cha had broken the Olympic record in a blistering lap, the ice-cool Lorentzen went 0.01 seconds faster, zooming around the track in a time of 34.41. Chinese Gao Tingyu took the bronze medal.

“I was tying my skates when Cha did his race and the atmosphere was amazing. Then he sets the Olympic record,” Lorentzen told reporters.

“I wasn’t sure I could beat that but I knew I could at least do a medal. And when I did the last 50 meters I said to myself this has to be a medal. … And then to cross the finish line and the entire stadium just goes to silence — it’s quite cool.”

Lorentzen was the first Norwegian to win the Olympic 500m title since Finn Helgesen 70 years ago and he became his country’s first medalist in the event since Magne Thomassen won silver in 1968.

Norway, once a powerhouse in the sport alongside the Netherlands, has struggled in recent decades and until Monday had not won a gold medal in speed skating at the Olympics since Adne Sondral’s victory in the 1,500m in Nagano in 1998.

Canada, Germany in golden dead-heat

Canada’s Justin Kripps and Germany’s Francesco Friedrich won gold medals after a dramatic dead-heat in the men’s Olympic two-man bobsleigh on Monday.

Latvia’s Oskars Melbardis took bronze behind the Canadian and German crews who were involved in the first dead-heat in the event since Nagano in 1998.

Ahead of the final run at the Olympic Sliding Centre, the fastest five pilots were separated by less than a quarter of a second in blisteringly quick conditions due to low temperatures.

Kripps, who tops the world bobsleigh driver rankings, had run three good heats, consistently placing first or second, and he needed to pull out another one to secure his first Olympic gold medal.

Four-times world champion Friedrich set the fastest time but Kripps, in the final run of the competition, exactly matched his mark of three minutes 16.86 seconds.

“It’s great. It’s two more people who are as happy as we are,” Kripps told reporters. “They’re amazing competitors, we’ve been friends and rivals for years so I couldn’t be happier.”

Germany equaled Switzerland’s Olympic record of five golds in the event.