A legendary double for Grøttumsbråten
A cross-country and Nordic combined specialist, Norway’s Johan Grøttumsbråten won three medals at Chamonix 1924: silver in the 18km and bronzes in the 50km and Nordic combined, an event in which he also won gold at the 1926 world championships in Lahti (FIN).
As at Chamonix, and as would be the case all the way through to the 1950s, the Nordic combined competition at St Moritz 1928 began with an 18km cross-country race, which was also an individual medal event, and finished with the ski jumping event.
Temperatures were cool and winds light for the 18km race, which took place on a fast, undulating course with an elevation gain of around 400m. Grøttumsbråten quickly took control and led all the way to the finish line. Following him home were two compatriots in Ole Hegge and Reidar Ødegård, with Finland’s Veli Saarinen putting in a strong finish to take fourth.
Heading into the following day’s ski jumping with a maximum 20,000 points, Grøttumsbråten needed nothing more than a solid performance to claim gold, which he duly produced with leaps of 49.3m and 56m to finish eighth in the event and first overall with a combined points total of 17,833, giving him a second gold in 24 hours. Taking silver and bronze overall were fellow Norwegians Hans Vinjarengen and John Snersud, who outjumped Grøttumsbråten but were unable to overhaul him in the standings.
Grøttumsbråten won another Nordic combined gold in Lake Placid four years later, taking his Olympic medal collection to six.