Riiber sprints to claim Nordic combined gold for Norway

Nordic Skiing - FIS Nordic World Ski Championships - Oberstdorf, Germany - February 26, 2021 Gold medalist Norway's Jarl Magnus Riiber and bronze medalist Norway's Jens Luraas Oftebro celebrate during the flower ceremony after the men's nordic combined individual gundersen normal hill 10km REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

OBERSTDORF, Germany (Reuters) - A late sprint on the final bend earned Norway's Jarl Magnus Riiber the gold medal in the Nordic combined event as he edged out Ilkka Herola of Finland by four tenths of a second at the FIS Ski World Championships on Friday.

Japan's Ryota Yamamoto recorded the longest ski jump of the competition to top the standings heading in to the 10km cross-country ski race, but he was soon left behind as the stronger skiers engaged in a tough battle at the front of the field.

On the final lap, reigning champion and World Cup leader Riiber was perfectly positioned behind Herola, with Norway's Jens Luraas Oftebro in third and Japan's Akito Watabe in fourth, but Watabe was dropped as the front three crested the final hill and the race for the line began.

Herola looked to be in pole position as they swept down the final hill but Riiber, who won Olympic silver in Pyeongchang in 2018, shifted outside and powered around the last bend to claim the gold medal, raising his arms as he crossed the line just ahead of Herola, with Oftebro half a second behind the Finn.

In the women's team event Austria pipped Slovenia for the gold medal by an extremely slim margin of 1.4 points, with Norway taking the bronze medal a further 15.8 points behind.

With the Slovenians leading going into the final round, 22-year-old Ema Klinec, who won gold in Thursday's normal hill event, came up just short on the last jump of the competition to finish just behind the Austrians.

(Reporting by Philip O'Connor in Stockholm; Editing by Toby Davis and Christian Radnedge)

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