Tuesday, December 18, 2001
Steamboat Springs American Nordic combined skier Matt Dayton wasn't surprised to hear that the top finishers in Tuesday's event didn't even know his name.
"I only skied two periods last year and these were my first two competitions on the World Cup this season," Dayton said. "So, I wouldn't be too surprised if a few of the guys didn't know who I was."
But teammate Todd Lodwick quickly pointed out that the days of anonymity are over for the skier who trains in Steamboat most of the year but lives in Breckenridge. Dayton posted two top 10 finishes in Steamboat, serving notice to the world's most elite Nordic combined skiers that they will have to contend with him.
On Tuesday, Dayton's jump placed him 14th heading into the 7.5-kilometer cross-country race. In the race, he worked his way up nine spots to finish fifth, the top American. Lodwick finished one spot behind in sixth place.
On Sunday, Dayton finished sixth in the World Cup event that included two jumps and a 15-kilometer race. Tuesday's event was a sprint one jump and a 7.5k race.
World Cup points leader Ronny Ackermann, who was fourth after the jumping, proved why he is one of the top skiers in the world in winning Tuesday's competition. He grabbed the lead early in the cross-country race and never looked back.
Jumping leader Jaakko Tallus of Finland fell behind Ackermann and Lodwick in the second of four laps.
Lodwick seemed to be in good shape after finishing second in the jumping and starting the race just seven seconds behind Tallus. But the local favorite faltered down the stretch of the race, posting just the 21st fastest time of the day to finish sixth overall.
Lodwick held on to the No. 2 slot in the race until the final lap when he was passed by a large group of skiers that included second-place finisher Samppa Lajunen of Finland and third-place finisher Felix Gottwald of Austria. Another Austrian, Mario Stetcher, moved into fourth in the rush and Dayton finished fifth.
Tallus followed Lodwick. Finland's Hannu Manninen, who turned in the fastest cross-country time of the day, moved into eighth. Michael Gruber of Austria was ninth and Mikko Keskinarkaus of Finland was 10th.
"I just didn't have it at the end. I don't think I even had it at the beginning," Lodwick said. "The skis didn't help. I don't think they were the greatest skis today I think we could have been better."
After the race, Nordic combined coach Tom Steitz said he was not disappointed in the finish.
"Once you get the podium then you get that expectation," Steitz said. "We're happy. What Todd (Lodwick) did on the jump hill was amazing. He really performed well under pressure."
The sprint event brought an end to the Ski Town USA Classic at Steamboat, which included two World Cup events at Howelsen Hill.