Japan’s Noriaki Kasai continued his dream Olympics at age 41, and Germany beat Austria by an average of about 8 inches per jump.
Sport: Ski jumping
Event: Men’s team
Medalists: Germany, Austria, Japan
SportsMyriad projections: Austria, Germany, Slovenia
How U.S. fared: The drawn-on mustaches were cool, especially on baby-faced lead jumper Peter Frenette, age 21. They were in last place in the field of 12 after Frenette (113 meters from a lower gate) and Nick Fairall (120.5 meters) took their jumps. Anders Johnson (119 meters) was 10th in his group. Then Nick Alexander unleashed a flight of 126.5 meters to place sixth in his group, ahead of such veterans as Finland’s Janne Ahonen. That moved the team up to 10th overall. Not enough to qualify for the final eight, but not a bad results.
What happened: The leaders after the first round (all four jumpers take one jump each): Germany 519.0, Austria 516.5, Japan 507.5.
Poland, with 489.2, got a disappointing jump from double gold medalist Kamil Stoch. Slovenia, with 488.2, got a massive 133.5-meter leap from double medalist Peter Prevc.
Also qualifying: Norway (486.0), the Czech Republic and Finland. Russia missed by a wide margin in ninth place, then the USA, South Korea and Canada. The third Canadian, Matthew Rowley, fell on his landing but was unhurt, pounding the snow in frustration.
Norway put one of its best guys first, with Anders Bardal immediately pushing his team into contention. They were tied with Poland through three jumps. But Japan maintained a slight edge for third. Germany got big jumps from Marinus Kraus and 18-year-old Andreas Wellinger to move ahead of Austria by 3.4 points.
So it was Germany and Austria battling for gold, then Japan, Poland and Norway in the mix for bronze.
Slovenia’s Prevc, still just 21, put a little bit of pressure on the bronze medal contenders with a leap of 136 meters and a score of 139.0, the best to that point of the final round. Norway, which had front-loaded its team with Bardal, fell behind Slovenia. But Poland’s Stoch responded with 135 meters and a 139.8 to put Poland ahead.
Could 41-year-old Japanese jumper Noriaki Kasai, who won his first individual medal in his seventh Olympics last week, get another medal here? Yes! His score of 137.3 (134 meters) was enough to beat Poland.
Austria brought out Gregor Schlierenzauer, the highly accomplished jumper who has disappointed here so far. He jumped 132 meters for a score of 131.4. That moved Austria ahead of Japan.
Germany’s Severin Freund was fourth in the large hill. This time, he hit 131 meters. His teammates gathered and waited nervously. And it’s Aust- … oops, no, dreaded mistake by the NBC commentator. Freund was just fifth in his group, but Schlierenzauer had only taken 0.7 points out of Germany’s lead. The Germans took the gold by 2.7 points. Translating to distance points, that’s roughly 1.5 meters — less than five feet over eight jumps.