Austria finds itself in a familiar position at the team large hill/4x5km midpoint.
In podium position through the ski jumping half of the Nordic combined.
?But that may not be a good thing.
After hanging around all week, Austria’s ski jumpers were finally able to put it all together Thursday and hold a six-second lead over Germany heading into the 4x5 kilometer relay.
Austria’s Franz-Josef Rehrl led after the ski jumping portion in the normal hill event last Wednesday. His teammate Lukas Klapfer sat in fourth. In the end, Rehrl faded off the podium, while Klapfer won the bronze.
In the individual large hill event Tuesday, Wilhelm Denifl sat in third through the ski jumping but tied for seventh.
?In both events, the Germans skulked up on the Austrians, stealing multiple medals in the process.
Denifl again had the farthest jump of the day, a 138.5-meter leap for a team-high 124.4 points. Overall, the Austrians -- Denifl, Klapfer, Mario Seidl and Bernhard Gruber -- led the event with 469.5 points.
Again, the Austrians’ strong ski jumping has them in podium position, but will they be able to hold on this time? ?
Chasing them again will be Germany, who swept the podium in the individual large hill event. In the normal hill event, defending gold medalist Eric Frenzel easily chased down Rehrl to win his second straight gold.
Frenzel, Johannes Rydzek (gold) and Fabian Riessle (silver) all blew past Denifl in the large hill event. All three will compete in the relay and with such a slim deficit, figure to give the Austrians fits again.
Arguably the best cross-country skiers in the Nordic combined events, six seconds is nothing to the German squad. Frenzel overcame a 36-second deficit in his win while Rydzek shrugged off a 31-second delay in the large hill.
?Japan (19 seconds behind) and Norway (27 seconds) are also right in the mix.
The American men struggled. Bryan Fletcher again led the team with 106.2 points. His brother, Taylor, had an even 100.0-meter jump for a team-low 52.9 points. Teammates Ben Berend and Ben Loomis – both in their first Olympic Games – pitched in 87.5 and 78.2 points, respectively. Overall, Team USA sits in ninth of 10 teams and will begin the relay 3:13 back.
The Nordic combined team large hill event concludes at 5:20 a.m. ET with the 4x5km relay. Stream it here.