Norway take gold in nordic combined relay

Norway on Thursday beat Germany by a fraction of a second in a thrilling final sprint to take gold in the Olympic Games men's nordic combined team relay.

Norway take gold in nordic combined relay
Norway's Magnus Hovdal Moan, Haavard Klemetsen, Magnus Krog and Joergen Graabak celebrate their gold medal. Photo: Peter Parks/AFP

The initial ski jumping phase of the two-sport discipline left Norway, Germany and Austria ahead and the three were never challenged in the decisive 4x5km cross country ski race.

Norway's Joergen Graabak and Germany's Fabian Riessle surged ahead of Austria in the final section of the last leg and Graabak just managed to hold off a fast-finishing Germany.

Norway finished in 47min 13.5sec while Germany took silver, just 0.3 sec behind. Austria cruised home for an unchallenged bronze.

The triumph was the first time Norway had won the nordic combined Olympic team gold medal since Nagano 1998. It also capped a glorious Olympics for Graabak who won the large hill individual competition two days before.

Nordic combined is now the sole sport at the Olympic Games to be only open to men.

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Norway favourite to win most golds at Sochi

Norway is the clear favourite to scoop the most gold medals at the 2014 Winter Olympics at Sochi, with leading bookmakers Ladbrokes, Coral, and William Hill all giving the country's team even odds to come out tops.

Norway favourite to win most golds at Sochi
Therese Johaug (centre): Scanpix
That means that anyone betting 100 kronor on Norway would double their money, whereas if they bet the same money on the US team, judged the second most likely to win, with odds of 7/2, they would win 350 kronor. 
Norway's cross country ski teams, led by Petter Northug and Marit Bjørgen look set to dominate in their races, despite Northug's recent fitness issues following last year's illness. 
"I will stop at nothing because I must be at the top of the podium at the Sochi Olympics," the 28-year-old Northug said. 
"If I am speaking honestly, I have high expectations. One gold medal will not be enough. I want to win no less than two gold medals."
Meanwhile, Bjørgen, 33, and her enormously talented team-mate Therese Johaug almost certainly have both gold and silver in the bag.  
But the bookies are betting that the Norwegian team will fall behind the US when it comes to the total number of medals won, with Ladbrokes and William Hill both giving the US even odds,and respectively seven-to-four and to two-to-one against for Norway.