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Updated at 7:27 a.m., Thursday, February 26, 2009

Skiing: Japan wins gold in Nordic combined, US withdraws

Associated Press

LIBEREC, Czech Republic Japan won the Nordic combined team event Thursday at the Nordic skiing world championships, while the United States withdrew after one jumper was disqualified for losing his bib.

Norihito Kobayashi defeated Germany's Tino Edelmann in a sprint to the finish to give Japan its first medal of the championships. Japan finished the 20-kilometer relay in 48 minutes, 32.3 seconds. Germany had the same time, with Norway 3.6 seconds back in third.

The U.S. team, one of the medal favorites, pulled out following the ski jumping portion after Bill Demong failed to find his start number in time and was not allowed to jump. Demong had tucked his bib into his jumping suit to protect it from the snowfall, and was unable to find it before his jump.

He later found it in his boot, the team said in a statement.

"I take responsibility, for sure," said Demong, who was shown on television being consoled by his coaches.

The disqualification left the Americans with just three valid results in the four-man competition. Coach Dave Jarrett said it was better to save the skiers' energy ahead of the final individual competition on Saturday.

"We want to get ready for Saturday now, put this behind us and move forward," Jarrett said. "I know that Bill feels as bad as anybody can feel."

It was a major disappointment to the U.S. team, which had dominated the Nordic combined events at these worlds, with Todd Lodwick winning two golds and Demong finishing third in the Gundersen event on Sunday.

The mishap left rivals in disbelief.

"I never experienced anything like that," said Tomas Slavik of the Czech Republic. "It's a huge disappointment for him. But there's nothing he can do about it. It's the world championships and the rules are given, every athlete needs to have a starting number. It's bad luck."