Geiger produced an epic surge to earn a first individual Olympic gold medal in Nordic combined. Norway’s Joergen Graabak finished second with Lukas Greiderer of Austria holding on for bronze.
German Vinzenz Geiger produced an epic final lap of skiing to walk away with a maiden Nordic combined Olympic gold medal in the individual Gundersen normal hill/10km gold at at the Zhangjiakou National Cross-Country Skiing Centre on Wednesday (9 February).
The 24-year-old Geiger clawed his way back from 11th place - nearly a minute-and-a-half behind Japan’s Yamamoto Ryota in pole position - to claim his second Olympic gold medal, adding to the team title from PyeongChang 2018.
Geiger was tactically astute on the skis as he surged past the race leaders at the death to claim the victory in a time of 25:07.7. Norway’s Joergen Graabak finished on his heels in second place, clocking 25:08.5, with Austria’s Lukas Greiderer finishing third (25:14.3).
"It's unreal, I don't know how I managed it. I tried to push hard and I had really, really fast skis. My service guys did the perfect job. I didn't imagine a medal. A gold medal is crazy,” Geiger said.
"The team success (in PyeongChang 2018) was very special, and today is also very special. I did not think about it (winning) and I cannot believe it."
Geiger had it all to do in the cross-country section after a leap of 98.0 metres (111.4 points) on the Gundersen normal hill.
Yamamoto enjoyed a 38-seconds lead going into the cross-country leg after landing a 108.0-metres jump translating into a 113.00 points lead. But the chasing pack rapidly chipped away at his advantage over the cross-country course, which consisted of four 2.5km laps. A group of four athletes led by Greiderer passed the Japanese athlete after the first lap.
Reigning Olympic champion in the large hill, Johannes Rydzek of Germany, moved to the front of the race, where compatriot Julian Schmid and Greiderer skated in lockstep. Rydzek looked set to clinch his second individual gold medal with a lap to go before the chasing group, with Geiger at the front, swooped past for the victory. Greiderer, who was skiing at the front for the majority of the race held on for dear life to earn his bronze medal.
“It was such a crazy race. I really thought I was getting a medal over the three laps, but in the last 500 metres someone came and told me that Vinzenz Geiger was getting close to me,” Greiderer said. "It was just crazy. I fought for everything and finally got third place. Just amazing."
Graabak came full circle since winning the large hill gold eight years ago, expanding his Olympic collection to four medals adding to the team gold and silver from Sochi 2014 and PyeongChang 2018
"This is really special. It's been eight years since I won the Olympics," Graabak said. "I've been training really hard and managed to hit back and snatch the Nordic triple in Seefeld 10 days ago. Now I can stand here with a silver medal in the Olympics. I'm just really proud and really happy."
1- Vincenz Geiger (GER) - 25:07.7
2- Joergen Graabak (NOR) - 25:08.5
3- Lukas Greiderer (AUT) - 25:14.3
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