ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (REUTERS) - German favourite Eric Frenzel won the Nordic Combined normal hill event on Wednesday, landing the longest jump of the day and then mastering a slushy cross-country course to beat Japan's Akito Watabe.
The two men started about 30 seconds ahead of the pack on the cross-country leg and never looked to be in trouble. They exchanged places several times before Frenzel broke away about 300 metres from the finish to win by 4.2sec.
The 26-year-old world No.1, who is a member of Germany's armed forces, raised his arms in triumph as he slid across the line in 23min 50.2sec.
It was the first Olympic gold for Frenzel, who is the world champion on the large hill. He won a bronze in the team event at the 2010 Games.
Magnus Krog of Norway, who started the cross-country section more than a minute behind Frenzel, skied magnificently in increasingly difficult conditions to win the bronze, 8.1 seconds behind the German.
Frenzel landed the longest jump of the day, soaring 103 metres. Watabe came second with a leap of 100.5m to start just six seconds behind the German.
Organisers, acting on complaints that the warm weather was making the course slushy, added plenty of salt to harden it up. Even so, parts of the track was clearly cutting up badly in the latter stages of the race.
Defending Olympic champion Jason Lamy Chappuis of France, who was eighth in the jump and started 31sec behind Frenzel, ended in 35th place after tiring badly on the course.