Rydzek leads German sweep in Nordic combined at Olympics

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea (AP) Johannes Rydzek took advantage of his strength in the cross-country race to lead a German sweep of the Olympic podium on Tuesday in Nordic combined.

Fifth after the ski jump, the 26-year-old Rydzek erased a 31-second deficit in the 10-kilometer cross-country race and took the lead on the last lap to win the large hill gold medal at the Pyeongchang Games.

Fabien Riessle was four seconds off the pace for silver while Normal hill champion Eric Frenzel took the bronze, eight seconds back.

Overall World Cup leader Akito Watabe of Japan, who was first after the ski jumping stage and started with a one-second lead over Jarl Magnus Riiber of Norway, led for most of the race but faded over the last two kilometers and finished fifth.

Watabe and Riiber contested for the lead early on and built up a 16-second lead over the three Germans. But Rydzek, Riessle and Frenzel gradually closed the gap and surged into the lead on the last lap.

Rydzek, known for his strength in cross-country, has been building momentum since winning four golds at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Lahti, Finland, last year.

A month after winning the world junior title in Hinterzarten, Germany, in January 2010, Rydzek made his Olympic debut in Vancouver and finished on the podium, helping the German quartet win bronze in the team event.

Fifth overall in the World Cup standings this season, his lone title this season came in Kuusamo, Finland, on Nov. 26.

Nordic combined features ski jumping and a cross-country ski race. The athlete who wins the ski jumping stage starts first, followed by the remaining athletes in their order of finish.

More AP Olympic coverage: https://wintergames.ap.org

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