ROSA KHUTOR —
Norway's Joergen Graabak and Magnus Moan felt right at home in the Russian mountains on Tuesday when they powered through driving rain to gold and silver medals in the men's Nordic combined.
Both live in the coastal town of Trondheim where it rains about 150 days a year.
“We're a bit used to this kind of weather in Trondheim - rain and a bit gray. We were discussing this in the car on the way to the arena today that it was a bit like home, and I guess we took advantage,” said Graabak, 22, after winning Norway's first gold in Nordic combined since 1998.
“We're used to training in a lot of rain,” said Moan, 30, who chose an expletive to describe the Trondheim climate.
After placing sixth and seventh in the ski jump part of the event, the pair started the 10 km cross-country ski race with deficits of 42 and 45 seconds respectively.
In a tight and fluctuating contest, they quickly joined the leading group and then broke away in the final sprint to take the top two places.
While the Norwegians adjusted like ducks to water, not everyone was so happy with the conditions.
“It was a difficult day for me. Rain is always too difficult to ski with, but it was the same for everyone,” said Akito Watabe of Japan, who finished sixth after taking a fall.
The Norwegians said they worked together to force the pace, with Moan making much of the running in the first two laps out of four.
“We were discussing before the race today that we had a unique opportunity to get ourselves in a position that we could really own the cross-country race,” he said.
With Norwegians placed 1st, 2nd, 9th and 12th in the individual event and Germans taking the 3rd, 4th, 8th and 10th spots, the stage is set for a battle royal in the team event.
But Moan was not afraid to venture a forecast. Asked at a news conference if Norway would win, he replied with a one-word answer: “Yes.”