Germany's Frenzel grabs gold in Nordic combined normal hill

Krasnaya Polyana, Russia ( - Germany's Eric Frenzel posted the top score in the ski jump and then held off Japan's Akito Watabe in the cross country portion to claim the gold medal in the Nordic combined normal hill on Wednesday at the Sochi Olympics.

Frenzel received 131.5 points for his ski jump, giving him a six-second lead over Watabe heading into the cross country portion of the event.

With the next group of skiers unable to leave for another 21 seconds, Frenzel and Watabe created a large enough gap to turn the competition into a two-man race for gold.

Frenzel and Watabe traded places for much of the race until the home stretch, when the 25-year-old Frenzel sped past Watabe and crossed the finish line in 23 minutes, 50.2 seconds to secure his first individual Olympic medal. Watabe finished 4.2 seconds later.

Frenzel won bronze in Vancouver as part of Germany's Nordic combined large hill team.

Watabe, 25, took home silver for his first Olympic medal, while Norway's Magnus Krog, who started 1:03 after Frenzel, grabbed bronze by flying around the course in 22:55.3.

Italy's Alessandro Pittin, the 2010 bronze medalist in this event, finished just outside of medal contention in fourth, despite posting the top cross country time at 22:47.5

Reigning Olympic champion Jason Lamy Chappuis of France finished in 35th place.

Bill Demong, who won gold in the Nordic combined large hill at the Vancouver Games, recorded the best finish by an American, ending in 24th place.

Fellow American Todd Lodwick, the opening ceremony flag bearer who won silver in the team event four years ago, was in 34th after the ski jump and did not start the cross country portion. Lodwick, competing in his sixth Winter Games, sustained a serious shoulder injury in a ski-jumping crash in late December and had his arm in a sling for more than a month.