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updated: 2/22/2010 2:44 PM

Austria successfully defends ski jumping gold

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  • Austria's Gregor Schlierenzauer makes his first competition jump during the Men's ski jumping team event from the large hill.

      Austria's Gregor Schlierenzauer makes his first competition jump during the Men's ski jumping team event from the large hill.
    Associated Press

 

WHISTLER, British Columbia -- The Austrians have soared to the gold medal in the Olympic team ski jump, capped by 20-year-old Gregor Schlierenzauer's final amazing 146.5-meter jump.

Austria defended its title from the Turin Games with 1,107.9 points Monday.

Germany won silver with 1,035.8 points, and Norway took bronze with 1,030.3 points.

There was a wind delay of several minutes with the final three jumpers left on top of the hill, and after a forejumper tested it, Norway's Anders Jacobsen slid out on the gate but retreated to the steps to wait some more.

Finally, he jumped 140.5 meters. But Michael Uhrmann's 140-meter jump right after clinched the silver for Germany.

Then, Schlierenzauer sealed his third medal of these games -- he won bronze in both the large and normal hill individual jumps.

After jumping farther than anyone in these Winter Games, he had to squat out his landing and nearly had to brace himself with his left hand, but it never touched the snow.

And after he zoomed into the finish area to celebrate Austria's triumph, he played to the TV camera, acting like he was slicking back his brown locks over his silver and blue helmet.

Simon Ammann, the Swiss ace who won gold in both the normal hill and large hill individual jumps, didn't participate in the final ski jump event of the Vancouver Games because Switzerland didn't have four jumpers to field a team.

With the World Cup leader out, Austria's four jumpers -- Schlierenzauer, Thomas Morgenstern, Andreas Kofler and Wolfgang Loitzl -- were the four highest-ranked athletes in the field.

"We do not have so much pressure," Loitz said. "We know we have the strongest team, so we knew what to do."

Kofler and Morgenstern also were on the team that won gold in Turin, and Loitzl was on the 2002 team that took fourth in Salt Lake City.

So strong were the Austrians that Martin Koch, ranked eighth in the World Cup standings, didn't even make the four-man team, and Austria's competitors appeared resigned to fight it out for silver and bronze even before the competition.

Besides Uhrmann, the German team consisted of Michael Neumayer, Andreas Wank and Martin Schmitt. The Norwegians were Anders Bardal, Tom Hilde, Johan Remen Evensen and Jacobsen.

Finland finished in fourth with 1,014.6 points.

This is the first time since 1994 in Lillehammer, Norway, that the Finnish didn't win an Olympic medal in ski jumping. Their top jumper, Janne Ahonen, withdrew from the team event because of a knee injury.

The two-time World Cup champion was hurt when he landed during the trial round for the large hill jump on Saturday. He jumped in the first round but not the second and finished 31st. Kalle Keituri replaced him.

The American ski jumping team of Anderson Johnson (Park City, Utah), Peter Frenette (Saranac Lake, N.Y.), Taylor Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, Colo.) and Nick Alexander (Lebanon, N.H.) placed 11th in the 12-team field and failed to advance to the eight-team final round.

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