Germany surprised the field with gold in the men's team ski jumping event at the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia on Day 10.
As pointed out by SportsCenter Alerts, the Germans narrowly beat Austria, with Japan rounding out the top three, well off the pace:
Germany wins men's team ski jump gold with 1041.1. Austria (1038.4) takes silver, Japan (1024.9) bronze http://t.co/OP3kiRFj2W— SportsCenter Alerts (@ESPNSCalerts) February 17, 2014
While the Germans were expected to challenge for a podium finish, they weren't considered the team to beat heading into the Olympics, according to Dennis Passa of the Associated Press, via Yahoo! Sports, who called Japan the favorite to win before the event.
As often happens in the world of sports, however, the "best" teams don't always perform the best in crunch time.
Here's a look at the final results, along with a closer look at the Monday's action.
Germany finished the qualifying round in first place, finishing just 2.5 points ahead of Austria, with Japan coming in third.
Four of the 12 teams in Round 1 didn't qualify for the final. This year it was USA, Russia, Canada and Korea who fell short. Team USA finished in 10th place, as noted by Greg Ferraro of NBC:
USA finishes 10th and will not qualify. #skijumping— Greg Ferraro (@GFerraroNBC) February 17, 2014
Once the four worst teams were weeded out in the opening round, the big guns put on a show for the crowd at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center. Four jumpers from each team got one crack at putting up their best score, and there were plenty of good ones.
Three of the four German jumpers logged scores of at least 130.7, and the team finished the final round with a score of 521.9. Only Poland, which finished just outside of medal contention in fourth place, was able to do better in the medal round.
Austria's team of four had a more consistent showing, with all four jumpers scoring at least 129.9 points, but it wasn't enough to repeat as gold-medal winners after falling behind by nine points after Round 1.
The Austrians didn't perform as well as they would have liked in these Games. Before the men's team competition, Gregor Schlierenzauer touched on the country's shortcomings, per Reuters' David Liunggren via Yahoo! Sports: "We are not in the best shape, but we are all sportsmen who have won a lot so don't forget us. We are not the big favourites."
Still, a silver medal isn't anything to be ashamed about, and the Austrians nearly pulled off a repeat.
Japan's Noriaki Kasai followed up his silver medal in the men's large hill with another brilliant performance to help his team finish with the bronze in this event.
At the age of 41 and competing in his seventh Olympic Games, he stuck the third-biggest jump of the final round (137.3) to push Japan over Poland. Olympian Matt Elias seemed to be in awe of Kasai's achievements:
Love that at the age of 41 at his 7th (YES 7) Olympic Games, Noriaki Kasai has won his first Olympic medal yesterday & now won his second!— matt elias (@mattelias400h) February 17, 2014
This event closes out the Olympic ski jumping schedule at the 2014 Winter Games. Many of the athletes who competed in Sochi will likely return for another go-round when the 2018 Winter Games are contested in Pyeongchang, South Korea. For Kasai, this has to be a moment he will savor considering his age and the many years of hard work he has put into his craft.
Likely, the same teams that finished high in the standings this year will once again challenge for gold in four years. However, there's plenty of time for the lesser teams to step up their games and compete at a higher level.
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