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WINTER OLYMPICS

‘Flying moustache’ leads Norway to Olympic ski jump gold

Robert Johansson and his magnificent moustache anchored Norway to a stunning Olympic ski jumping gold in the men's team event Monday to deny Poland's Kamil Stoch a Pyeongchang double.

'Flying moustache' leads Norway to Olympic ski jump gold
Photo: Terje Pedersen / NTB scanpix

The 27-year-old, who has lit up social media with his bushy ginger whiskers and picked up two individual bronze medals in Korea, produced a final jump of 136 metres to edge Germany into silver and leave large hill champion Stoch with a team bronze.

“We've been a bit nervous today,” said Johansson, his bristly moustache quivering in the chill night air.

“I think it's fantastic to perform like we did,” he added, after leading Norway to their first Olympic team gold.

“I did see on the top that we had 22 points on Poland before the last jump. That made me a bit calmer but anyway the nerves are coming more and more as it's closing in to your own jump.

“I just tried to calm myself down to deliver what it took. Nervous, but a fantastic feeling afterwards.”

Norway finished with a winning total of 1,098.5 points to Germany's 1,075.7 to snatch top spot in the Olympic gold medal table with 11, one more than the second-placed Germans.

Andre Daniel Tande set the tone for Norway by unleashing a monster jump of 140.5 metres before Andreas Stjernen's effort of 135.5 put their rivals under serious pressure.


Men's ski jump team (L-R) Robert Johansson, Johann André Forfang, Andreas Stjernen and Daniel André Tande. Photo: Terje Pedersen / NTB scanpix

Germany's normal hill gold medallist Andreas Wellinger pulled out a leap of 134.5 metres, which was good enough to earn him a second silver of the Games after finishing behind Stoch in the large hill at the weekend.

Stoch, who did the normal and large hill double in Sochi four years ago, had it all to do on his final jump, but came up short as Poland's men in chocolate brown suits finished third with a total of 1,072.4 points.

“It's still a historic moment for us because it's the first medal for Poland in (team) ski jumping,” said Stoch, who tied fellow ski jumper Adam Malysz on a Polish record four Olympic Winter Games medals.

“We did everything that we could. It's a little bit (of a) pity because we were so close to the silver but we're happy.”

Germany, meanwhile, won their sixth Olympic ski jumping team medal, a joint record with Austria.

“After the first round we were close to the gold medal but the Norwegian guys were really, really strong today and also the last weeks,” said Germany's Karl Geiger.

READ ALSO: Norwegian wins 'Moustache Games' for magnificent facial hair

WINTER OLYMPICS

Norwegian Winter Olympics superstar Marit Bjørgen to retire

Norway's legendary biathlete Marit Bjørgen, who won a record eighth gold medal at the Winter Olympics in February, on Friday said she would call it quits at the age of 38.

Norwegian Winter Olympics superstar Marit Bjørgen to retire
Norwegian biathlon legend Marit Bjørgen. Photo: Berit Roald / NTB scanpix

“I don't feel I have the motivation required to give 100 percent for another season, that's why I'm quitting,” she told public broadcaster NRK.

“I thought it would be easier to say. I'm emotional. It has been an epoch in my life, over 20 years. So it's a bit special to say that this is my last season as an elite athlete,” she said.

Bjørgen underlined her status as an all-time great in the sport at the games in Pyeongchang, South Korea earlier this year, when she grabbed a record-extending 15th Winter Olympics medal, winning the 30km cross country to put Norway top of the final medals table.

The Olympian had earlier become the most successful winter games competitor of all time by finishing third in the team sprint free.

Her bronze with Maiken Caspersen Falla put her on 14 Olympic medals, outstripping fellow Norwegian Ole Einar Bjørndalen, who has 13 in the biathlon.

Bjørgen is also the second most successful woman at either the Summer or Winter Games, trailing only Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina with 18 medals.

She was showered with tributes from fellow athletes, and politicians, after the news broke on Friday.

“She was terribly important to me, she was my idol,” said Therese Johaug, a seven-time world champion and former Olympic gold medallist who was suspended after failing a drug test.

“You have been a source of inspiration and a role model, you made us jump with joy and scream with excitement,” former Norwegian Prime Minister and NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg wrote on his Twitter account.

Bjørgen claimed her first World Cup victory in Dusseldorf in October 2002 and her first Olympic medal (silver) in Salt Lake City the same year.

She gave birth to her first and only son, Marius, in 2015.

Norway, a country of 5.2 million people, enjoyed a barnstorming Winter Olympics, breaking the United States' 2010 record of 37 medals at a single winter games.

Bjørndalen, the most decorated male Winter Olympian in history, also announced his retirement this week, saying he would quit at the end of the season at the age of 44.

READ ALSO: 'We are not super-human': the secret to Norway's Olympic success