VAL DI FIEMME, Italy (AP) — Olympic champion Jason Lamy Chappuis led France to victory in the Nordic combined team event at the world championships on Sunday.
Chappuis — who won the individual title on Friday — beat Magnus Moan in a close sprint on the final straight to finish 0.4 seconds ahead of the Norwegian. The United States was third, with Bill Demong coming in 4.2 seconds behind Lamy Chappuis.
France, whose team also included Francois Braud, Maxime Laheurte, and Sebastien Lacroix, started the cross-country relay 22 seconds behind Japan, which won the ski-jumping phase.
Norway started 50 seconds behind Japan after a poor opening jump from Joergen Graabak. It would have started further back had Haavard Klemetsen not earned 125 points — the most of the round — with his jump. Magnus Krog was the fourth member of the team.
The U.S. team — made up of brothers Taylor and Bryan Fletcher, Todd Lodwick, and Demong — started more than a minute behind Japan and had the fastest time overall in the relay. Taylor Fletcher put them back in contention as the Americans were just 10.5 seconds behind at the first exchange. Demong, a reigning Olympic champion, also had the fastest time on the anchor leg, but ran out of energy toward the end.
Austria, which had started the relay in third, built a lead of more than 22 seconds at the second exchange, with the others teams content to sit back.
However, Lacroix, Lodwick, Krog and Japan's Akito Watabe worked together to reduce the deficit and eventually caught Lukas Klapfer.
Demong was eight seconds back at the start of his leg but he powered forward and even lead briefly.
However, Lamy Chappuis and Moan attacked on the penultimate hill and pulled away from Demong heading into the final straight.
The two were neck and neck right to the end when the Frenchman executed a perfectly-timed lunge to ensure his right boot crossed the line millimeters ahead of Moan's.