Ski jumping-Germany beat Austria in thrilling team event

Mon Feb 17, 2014 4:19pm EST
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By David Ljunggren and Mark Trevelyan

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - An 18-year-old Olympic debutant helped propel Germany to a dramatic victory over defending champions Austria in the men's ski jumping competition at the Sochi Games on Monday.

In a see-saw battle that saw the lead change hands several times, Austria held a tiny 0.3 point lead over the Germans with two jumps left after a fine effort by Thomas Morgenstern, who is still recovering from two bad crashes.

But the Germans then grabbed the advantage through a stupendous 134.5 meter jump by 18-year-old schoolboy Andreas Wellinger and won the gold on the final leap of the evening by Severin Freund.

Germany ended on 1,041.1 points compared to 1,038.4 for Austria. The elated German quartet jumped up and down and hugged each other after the result flashed up on the scoreboard.

Asked how confident he had been of victory after landing the final jump, Freund laughed: "Zero percent ... from the reaction of the other guys, I knew it was going to be close."

Japan finished well behind in third place, earning a bronze for 41-year-old Noriaki Kasai to go with the silver he won in the large hill individual event.

Wellinger's crucial sixth round jump of 134.5 meters came days after he finished a miserable 45th in the individual large hill competition, jumping 117 meters.

"(The jump) was no good... to look back at the individual is bad for me and the whole team. I focused on training yesterday and the competition today," he told reporters.   Continued...

(L to R) Germany's Marinus Kraus, Andreas Wank and Severin Freund celebrate after winning the men's ski jumping team event at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games February 17, 2014. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach