Lodwick leads Nordic combined after cross-country | VailDaily.com

Lodwick leads Nordic combined after cross-country

Mattias Karen
Associated Press
Vail, CO Colorado

LIBEREC, Czech Republic ” A late sprint gave Todd Lodwick of the United States a slim lead after the cross-country portion of the opening Nordic combined event Thursday at the Nordic skiing world championships.

Lodwick pulled away down the stretch to finish in 24 minutes, 49.7 seconds. Tino Edelmann of Germany was 4.6 seconds back while Bill Demong, another American, was 5.2 back in third.

The ski jumping portion was postponed because of strong winds and heavy snow. Organizers made the decision halfway through the first jumping round after the worsening visibility made conditions unsafe.

At least one round of jumps must be completed before a winner is crowned. Organizers said they would try to reschedule the round for Friday.

“It’s most important it’s a fair competition and it is probably the right decision,” said John Farra, the head of the U.S. Nordic combined team. “You could see some were jumping where they should jump but other people just couldn’t do it with the tail wind.”

Lodwick has never been on the podium at worlds and has not won a World Cup event since 2004. He left the sport in 2006 but came out of retirement a year and a half later, saying he wanted to win a medal at next year’s Vancouver Olympics.

Demong led much of the race after pulling away in an uphill section just after the 5-kilomter mark. He kept the lead for three kilomters before the pack caught up to him.

“It was a tight race today, it was pretty fast, the group stayed together,” Demong said. “I couldn’t quite hold them off, but it gave an opportunity to my teammate Todd to win.”

It is the first time a Nordic combined event began with a mass start cross-country race at a major championships. The discipline normally starts with ski jumping, with the point total dictating the starting order for a cross-country pursuit that decides the winner. The switch will likely benefit the better jumpers who could keep up with stronger skiers by following in their tracks. The top 28 skiers finished within a minute of Lodwick.

Johnny Spillane is the only American to have won a Nordic combined world title by taking the sprint event at Val di Fiemme in 2003, while Demong won a silver at Sapporo in 2007. Demong is a stronger ski jumper than Lodwick.

Skiing times are converted to points for the jumping portion, with Lodwick holding a 1.3-point edge over Edelmann and Demong. Anssi Koivuranta of Finland, another pre-race favorite, will take a 1.8-point deficit into the ski jump in fifth place.

A traditional Nordic combined event is held Sunday.

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