The pressure is on

Ski Town USA Classic gets rolling again today with World Cup Sprint

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— There will be fewer jumps to nail, fewer kilometers to ski and, of course, added pressure on the top Nordic Combined skiers in the world when the Ski Town USA Classic resumes at Howelsen Hill today.

"It ups the heart rate a little bit more," American skier Todd Lodwick said of the Sprint event.

The World Cup Sprint, the final event of the Ski Town USA Classic at Steamboat, will begin with a trial round at 9 a.m. on the K-114 jump at Howelsen Hill.

The competition will be similar to Sunday's more traditional two-jump, 15-kilometer course only in this case the action will be more condensed.

Today, the athletes will get one jump, which will count, and just 7.5 kilometers on the cross-country course to either hold off their competition or improve their position.

"There is no second chance in the Sprint, so you have to make the most of the opportunities," Lodwick said.

Lodwick and the American team will be looking to carry over the momentum of Sunday's event, when Lodwick was second and two other American skiers Matt Dayton in sixth and Bill Demong in 10th finished in the top 10.

"It's still the same thing," U.S. Team member and Steamboat Springs resident Johnny Spillane said. "Jump as far as you can, ski as fast as you can and try to do the same every time. The Sprint may be a little bit more fun I enjoy it a little more."

Spillane, who was 39th in Sunday's event, admitted the pressure of skiing in his hometown might have gotten to him a little bit on Sunday. He felt as if he pressed too hard in the first event and it backfired on him.

"I don't have any expectations I'm just going to go out and have fun and see what happens," Spillane said.

On Sunday, Austrian skier Felix Gottwald put himself at the top of a list of skiers to beat in the Sprint by winning the first of the two Steamboat Springs World Cup events. Gottwald said he was looking forward to training for and competing in the Sprint event.

"I like the big hill more than the small hill here in Steamboat," Gottwald said. "Since there is just one jump, and 7.5 kilometers of running (cross-country skiing) anything can happen."

Lodwick echoed his competitor's sentiment about the Sprint.

"It's a horse race," Lodwick said. "Here is the gate; the first one across the line wins."

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