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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Norway Toasts Finest Olympic Hour

LILLEHAMMER -- Norway celebrated its best day in Olympic history Friday, sweeping the medals in the men's Alpine skiing combined event and then taking gold and silver in the normal hill ski jump at the Lillehammer Games.

Tens of thousands of Norwegians waving red-white-and-blue national flags began impromptu and raucous parties in glorious sunshine at both venues as the extent of their superlative success sunk in.

"We beat the rest of the world's elite," Norwegian Alpine Committee chief Ola Bakke said. "Norway belongs at the top."

Norway now has 10 gold, 11 silver and four bronze medals -- its best Olympic performance, winter or summer. It won nine gold, six silver and five bronze medals in Albertville in 1992 to finish third behind Germany and the ex-Soviet CIS team.

In the Alpine combined, Lasse Kjus, leading Norway to the first Alpine one-two-three in 30 years, clocked a total time of three minutes 17.53 seconds to take gold at the Hafjell piste.

"It was great," said Kjus. "This is wonderful for Norway."

Adding to the records, Kjetil Andre Aamodt grabbed his second silver and third medal of the Games to become the first athlete to win five Olympic medals in Alpine skiing.

Harald Christian Nilsen completed the set by taking the bronze after the two slalom runs of the combined event.

As Bakke said, Norway's Alpine skiers are a force in their own right. But they are often overshadowed by the phenomenal success of their cross-country skiing colleagues who compete in an event which the Norwegians consider a birthright rather than just a sport.

The ski jumpers, who themselves have been overshadowed by the Finns for so long, looked inspired on the normal hill.

Espen Bredesen, dubbed "Espen the Eagle" after finishing last in the same event in the Albertville games, flew to victory with a hill record of 104 meters on his second jump to finish ahead of his young teammate Lasse Ottesen and Germany's Dieter Thoma.

German speed skater Claudia Pechstein won the women's 5,000 meters ahead of compatriot Gunda Niemann, the defending champion, and Japan's Hiromi Yamamoto. Pechstein was third in 1992.

At the biathlon, Russia won the women's 4-x-7.5-kilometer race to keep them at the top of the medals table with 11 golds.

Abysmal shooting on the part o f Simone Memm, a former East German cross-country skier who switched to take up biathlon, cost Germany the title.

The Germans could only manage to cling on to silver ahead of the 1992 Olympic champions France.

Memm was distraught but her team mates rallied round, with one, Antje Harvey, saying: "We also have bad shooting days."