FILE UNDER -- Nordic

TORINO: Ski jump: Austrian team takes gold medal

TORINO: Ski jump: Austrian team takes gold medal{mosimage}PRAGELATO, Italy – Thomas Morgenstern and Andreas Kofler carried their success over from the large-hill competition, leading Austria to the Olympic gold medal Monday in the ski-jumping team event.

Morgenstern, who won the gold Saturday on the large hill, jumped 140.5 meters in the final round to secure Austria’s third ski-jumping medal of the Torino Games.

”I knew even before my last jump that we were going to get the gold,” said Morgenstern. ”The jumps of the competition were very long but that gave me an extra push because I knew I was jumping better.”

Kofler, the large-hill silver medalist, had a jump of 130 meters in the last round to set Austria on course to 984 points.

Finland took the silver medal with 976.6 points. Norway got the longest jump of the final round from veteran Roar Ljoekelsoey — 141 meters — but had to settle for the bronze medal with 950.1 points.

The United States placed 14th in the event with 286.8 combined points as the Americans failed to advance to the final round.

Tommy Schwall (60.7 first-run round points), Anders Johnson (50.3), Clint Jones (82.2) and Alan Alborn (93.6) formed the United States team.

Austria had a 5.4-point lead after the first round, thanks largely to a 133.5-meter jump by Kofler. Finland and Germany were second and third respectively after the first round.

”Everything is clicking at the moment. It’s a brutal feeling right now, like being on cloud seven,” Morgenstern said.

Germany was the defending Olympic champion but went into the team event without a medal after the normal- and large-hill competitions, and finished fourth with 922.6 points.

With 19-year-old Morgenstern and 21-year-old Kofler at the helm, Austria went into the team competition as the gold-medal favorite.

Kofler had two solid jumps of 133.5 and 130 meters. The only question was whether veterans Andreas Widhoelzl and Martin Koch, who have struggled here, could pull their weight.

Widhoelzl had a second jump of 129 meters and Koch leapt 128.5 meters and the rest was up the youngsters. They both came through.

”What a great feeling,” Widhoelzl said. ”I knew even before Morgenstern’s last jump that I didn’t have to worry.”

– The Associated Press

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