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Germany grabs early lead in Nordic team competition

<p>Fueled by Eric Frenzel's jump in the fourth group, Germany grabbed the lead on Thursday in the Nordic combined team event at the Sochi Olympics.</p>

Krasnaya Polyana, Russia (SportsNetwork.com) - Fueled by Eric Frenzel's jump in the fourth group, Germany grabbed the lead on Thursday in the Nordic combined team event at the Sochi Olympics.

Frenzel had a distance of 129.0 meters and scored at 122.0, notching Germany a total point score of 481.7. That will give the Germans a seven-second head start over Austria when the 4x5-kilometer race begins later in the day to decide the medals.

The 25-year-old Frenzel is chasing his second gold medal of these Olympics. He won the individual normal hill back on Feb. 12 and was also part of Germany's bronze medal-winning team in this event four years ago in Vancouver.

Bjoern Kircheisen and Johannes Rydzek also return from that team along with 23-year-old Fabian Riessle, who had the shortest jump of the four Germans on Thursday.

However, Riessle won bronze here in Sochi in the large hill event.

Austria is the defending gold medalist in this event and posted a score of 476.3. The Austrians got solid jumps from Christoph Bieler (133.0 meters) and Mario Stecher (132.5), but Bernhard Gruber landed at just 122.0 meters as part of the fourth group to allow the Germans to grab control.

Both Stecher and Gruber won gold at the 2010 Olympics.

Norway came in third with a score of 462.8, thanks in large part to Haavard Klemetsen's fourth-group jump of 137.5 meters that scored 130.2, the highest of any skier on the day.

Still, Norway will begin 25 seconds after Germany.

The U.S. is eighth after seeing three of its four jumpers score under 100 points. The Americans will start 1:52 after Germany.

The United States returns two of the four skiers that won silver in the Nordic combined team competition four years ago in Vancouver, with Bill Demong and Todd Lodwick joined this time around by brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher.

The field was down to nine countries after Finland pulled out of the competition.

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