Norwegian strong in Nordic combined training
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (AP) Haavard Klemetsen of Norway finished first in two of three ski jumping sessions Sunday, the opening day of Nordic combined training for the individual Gundersen normal hill event at the Sochi Olympics.
Not far behind was Jason Lamy Chappuis of France, who won gold in the event at Vancouver in 2010, with a second and two thirds. Taihei Kato of Japan was the top finisher in the third session.
Eric Frenzel of Germany, who has a big lead in World Cup standings after seven wins in 11 events this season, tied for fifth twice and had a sixth.
Nordic combined features ski jumping and a cross-country ski race, but the 10-kilometer race training is optional. Many competitors skied just parts of the new course adjacent to the ski hill.
This is the first time at any Olympics that Nordic combined athletes have their own cross-country course. Usually they must travel to the biathlon and cross-country stadium to compete, and Klemetsen isn't sure he likes the purpose-built course.
''It's good and easier to prepare, but at the same time I wish that the cross-country would be at the biathlon center,'' he said. ''It's a bigger stadium and the Olympics should be a bit more special.''
Klemetsen is in third place in the World Cup standings and said he hopes he's peaking at the right time.
''My goal has always been the Olympics, so I've been working really hard this season,'' he said. ''I'm going to try and enjoy every minute and have fun.''
Todd Lodwick of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, who is competing in his sixth Winter Games and carried the United States flag at the opening ceremony, had two jumps that placed him in the back of the field. But he was pleased that the shoulder he injured in January felt sore but OK.
''Feels awesome,'' he said. ''It hurts, but we'll get back up there.''
Nordic combined events use the Gundersen method of competition, developed by Gunder Gundersen of Norway in the 1980s.
In individual events, the cross-country portion of the race is a pursuit in which the athlete who won the ski jumping phase begins first, followed by the remaining athletes in their order of finish. Every point that a competitor finishes behind the leader in ski jumping equals a four-second handicap on the start line in cross-country race.