Jarl Magnus Riiber put himself in the box seat to win gold in the large hill 10km/ski jump event at the Winter Olympics on Tuesday, only for an embarrassing blunder to ruin his chances.
The Norwegian put himself in contention for a medal by soaring out to the highest-scoring in the ski jump earlier in the day.
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That meant Riiber started first in the 10km cross-country ski, giving him a huge advantage over his rivals.
However the 24-year-old wasn't as familiar with the course as he would have linked, having only come out of Covid-19 isolation hours before the event.
Riiber had only been given the green light to compete on the day of the event after time in isolation due to a positive test for coronavirus.
His time spent in isolation meant he had no time to check the course beforehand, and went the wrong way in embarrassing scenes.
Riiber turned around once he realised his mistake, but had lost valuable time and eventually finished eighth, nearly 40 seconds behind fellow Norwegian Joergen Graabak - who won gold.
Fellow Norwegian Jens Luraas Oftebro took the silver medal, while Akito Watabe of Japan won bronze.
"It's a silly mistake and it's not fun to show the world that I'm maybe wasting a gold medal on that," said Riiber.
"I have only spent seven minutes on skis (since leaving isolation).
"I could tell it wasn't enough for what I was facing today."
Riiber said he was hoping to be fit for Thursday's team event.
"Let's see if I come through today unscathed," he said.
"It's possible I might have caught a little illness because it was cold and the temperature is a little bit different from what I had in the hotel room."
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Graabak rallied from a deficit of 2 minutes, 7 seconds behind Riiber to finish first after placing 12th in the ski jump.
“It’s what dreams are made of," Graabak said.
“It’s unreal, to be honest. I can’t quite believe it."
Graabak became the first two-time Nordic combined Olympic champion on the large hill after winning the event in 2014, while Watabe was a shock bronze medallist.
“It was a bit of a surprise for me because I haven’t had any podium (finishes) this year so far in the World Cup,” Watabe said.
The athlete who jumps the farthest and impresses judges the most starts the cross-country portion of the Nordic combined event with a lead.
The rest of the field follows in order of the finish in ski jumping, with the first to cross the finish line winning gold.
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