Americans go for third medal in Nordic combined
AP Sports Writer
WHISTLER, British Columbia – The Americans have a chance to improve on an already historic performance in the final Nordic combined race at the Winter Olympics.
Johnny Spillane has a silver in the normal hill race, and the U.S. team grabbed silver in the relay – a moment Todd Lodwick called, “The greatest moment in Nordic combined history in the U.S.A.”
Now Lodwick, Spillane and Billy Demong all have a chance Thursday to win the final Nordic combined race.
U.S. coach Dave Jarrett can easily envision another podium celebration after the 10-kilometer race that follows a jump off the large hill.
“You saw on the jumping hill, Johnny’s among the best, Bill’s among the best, Todd’s among the best,” Jarrett said. “So, on Thursday, I like our chances as much as anybody’s.
“Johnny likes the large hill better, I think Bill does too, Todd does too.”
They’ll have plenty of competition.
Frenchman Jason Lamy Chappuis, the World Cup leader who edged Spillane by less than half a second for gold on Feb. 14, poses a strong threat for another win.
Norway’s Magnus Moan and Austria’s Felix Gottwald had medal chances in the first individual race were ruined when they had poor jumps after long delays caused by shifting winds. Nevertheless, they skied the two fastest times around the cross-country course.
And this could be Hannu Manninen’s last chance to win the individual gold Olympic medal that has eluded the 31-year-old Finn.
The U.S. has never won a gold medal in the Nordic sports at the Winter Games, but the Americans are emboldened by their relay performance and their 2-4-6 finish in the individual 10K that followed jumps off the normal hill.
Spillane, the only athlete to win medals in each of the first two races, considers the large hill race his strength, and he’s healthy now after competing in the first race while fighting off a cold. He’ll try to become the fourth athlete to win three medals since the third event was added in 2002.
Chappuis is trying to join Finland’s Samppa Lajunen as the only Nordic combined athletes to win both individual races at the same games. Lajunen did it at the Salt Lake City Games.
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