Germany leads team event after ski jumping

DENNIS PASSA AP Sports Writer Published:

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) -- Germany took the lead in the Nordic combined team event Thursday when all four of its competitors, including normal hill gold medalist Eric Frenzel, ski jumped 125 meters or better -- the only team to do so.

Germany's opening cross-country skier will start seven seconds ahead of the first competitor from second-place Austria, the two-time defending champions, in the 4x5-kilometer relay race later Thursday.

Third-place Norway will start 25 seconds behind, with fourth-place France giving Germany a 35-second head start.

Finland was a late scratch because Eetu Vaehaesoeyrinki was ill. The team did not have a fifth athlete in Sochi and had to withdraw.

Akito Watabe, who won the silver medal behind Frenzel in the normal hill, said he was disappointed with his jump Thursday. Japan finished sixth and will start 1 minute, 5 seconds behind Germany.

"It was not good for me," he said. "The wind condition gave me a bit of tail wind so it made it difficult to get a good distance."

Head winds are preferred by ski jumpers because they aerodynamically extend their time in the air.

The United States, which won a silver medal in this event at Vancouver in 2010, finished eighth of nine teams and will start 1:52 behind.

Todd Lodwick, the 37-year-old from Steamboat Springs, Colo., who is competing in his sixth Olympics, made his final jump of his career -- he plans to retire after the Olympics.

"A lot of mixed emotions, that was my last ski jump," said Lodwick, who carried the U.S. flag at the opening ceremony. "To be at the top (of the ski jump), I just took in the moment."

Lodwick, a member of the U.S. team at Vancouver, said the Americans have a lot of catching up to do in the cross-country relay.

"I'm going to lay it all out there and if it hurts ... at the end I don't care," he said.

He said he has no immediate plans for the future.

"I've got two kids at home that I'm really excited to see and a girlfriend I love more than anything in the world," he said. "I just want to be home."