Monday, November 26, 2001
Steamboat Springs Two races into the World Cup season and two top 10s for local Olympic medal hopeful Todd Lodwick.
The top American Nordic Combined skier was eighth in a sprint one jump, and a 7.5-kilometer cross-country race in Kuopio, Finland, on Sunday. He was just 39 seconds behind winner Ronny Ackermann of Germany.
It was Lodwick's second top 10 finish in less than a week. On Friday night, he placed seventh in a more traditional two-jump, 15-kilometer event, which was also held in Kuopio.
"We jumped OK, but we have to pick it up in the cross-country," U.S. coach Tom Steitz said.
Hannu Manninen of Finland was second in Sunday's event, 9.3 seconds back, and Kristian Hammer of Norway was third, 10.4 seconds off the mark in the fast-paced event.
Top Americans included Lodwick in eighth, Johnny Spillane in 19th and Bill Demong in 27th. Spillane jumped to 22nd and then moved up in the cross-country. Demong was 10th after the jumping and then fell in the cross-country race.
The Nordic Combined sprint event pits the world's top 45 skiers in a one-jump, 7.5-kilometer combined affair that some have likened to a fire drill.
The skiers begin on the jump hill, where they are handicapped based on their finish. The action then moves over to the short cross-country course for a race, which unfolds at a furious pace.
Lodwick, who has been one of the top cross-country skiers on the tour the past several years, jumped to sixth place. But then, uncharacteristically, fell to eighth in the cross-country.
"Todd (Lodwick) was hell on wheels four or five weeks ago," Steitz said. "But he's lost some of his skiing while he's picked up his jumping quite nicely. He still didn't have a great day jumping, though, compared to what he can do."
The coach, however, wasn't worried. He expects the team to improve in the cross-country portions of the events with more on-snow time.
The team will travel to Lillehammer for two events Dec. 1 and 2. The first is a team event and the second is a traditional competition off the K-120 hill.
The World Cup B scheduled will also host a pair of events (a traditional event and a mass start 15K event) in Vuokattie Dec. 1 and 2.
The team will return to its home base of Steamboat Springs Dec. 16-18 for the Ski Town USA Classic at Steamboat. That event will include a traditional two-jump, 15-kilometer race Dec. 16 and the more fast-paced sprint event Dec. 18.