The Germans clinched their third team gold in as many Olympics -- even before their last rider finished with eight total faults -- followed by the United States and Sweden for silver and bronze.
Five teams were hoping for their last riders to jump clean to win the silver, with U.S. hopes riding on Beezie Madden and Authentic. Madden came through, tying for silver with Sweden at 20 faults each and forcing the jump-off.
Madden's teammates flew as well, with three clean rounds to match three from Sweden, but in a faster total time. The Americans saved precious seconds by cutting across decorative stones that were supposed to be circled, and Sweden caught on to the shortcut too late to catch up.
The team event involved two regular rounds of jumping, the first one held in the morning. The three best scores from each team in each separate round counted toward the final team score.
The United States was tied with the Netherlands for second after the morning session with eight faults; Germany led with four faults.
Earlier in the second round, Chris Kappler had one rail down on Royal Kaliber for four faults, while McLain Ward dropped two rails on Sapphire for eight faults. The U.S. team started the evening with a 12-fault round from Peter Wylde on Fein Cera.
"It's just not happening for me," Wylde said, "and I can't say why."