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Wednesday, February 19, 2014
Training canceled due to conditions

Associated Press

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- Ski jump training for the Nordic combined large hill team event at the Olympics was canceled Wednesday because of the condition of the landing area following steady rain.

Rain fell throughout Tuesday's individual final won by Norway's Joergen Graabak. It softened the landing area on the ski jump and made a mess of the 2.5-kilometer cross-country course.

Few competitors had arrived before the scheduled 11 a.m. start for training Wednesday under sunny, blue skies and with a fresh dusting of snow on the nearby mountains.

The team gold is scheduled for Thursday, the final Olympic event at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center.

"Due to heavy rain on Tuesday, extra time is needed to prepare the hill,'' organizers said in a statement.

Cross-country training is always optional, and less structured. It was still available to competitors Wednesday.

Austria is the defending gold medalist from the Vancouver Olympics, when the United States took silver and Germany the bronze.

Mario Stecher can become the first athlete to win three gold medals in Nordic combined if his country wins Thursday. Stecher has two gold medals, equal to retired countryman Felix Gottwald, who also was on the 2010 team.

Austria also won the event at the 2006 Olympics and can become the first country to win in three times in a row. Japan won the team event in 1992 and 1994.

The U.S. team contains two members who won silver in 2010 -- 37-year-old Todd Lodwick, the first American to appear in six Winter Olympics and who carried the flag at the opening ceremonies, and Billy Demong of Park City, Utah, who won the individual large hill gold in Vancouver but who finished 31st on Tuesday here.

They'll be joined by brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher, from Steamboat Springs.

The team event is one jump off the large hill. The team with the leading number of points, using the Gundersen method, leads off the 4x5-kilometer relay, with the other countries starting 1.33 seconds later for every point behind.