FIrst International Nordic Combined Race

Matthew VoisinNovember 14, 2009
Onasvaara Ski Club, one of the oldest ski clubs in world holds first international nordic combined race of the 2009-10 season.   They have athletes from 8 nations contesting the race. Including Austrian A & B , Czech, Swiss, Estonia, and Finland’s National Teams. Also Athletes from Russia, Canada, and Japan.

Of note is the strong field including:  Anssi Koivuranta, 2008-9 Nordic Combined  Overall World Cup Champion. Then the comeback stories of  Felix Gottwald, 2006 Olympic Champion from Austria is at First Snow for a comeback debut. Also Hannu Manninen at 32 years old who after a hiatus from Nordic Combined where Hannu was undergoing Pilot Training has returned with better then ever jumping form.

Missing from First Snow is the strong American Contingent led by Bill Demong, Todd Lodwick  and Johnny Spillane.

The Race consists of one jump on a  K100  hill scored then a 10 km race Pursuit start  based on the score from the jump, with the first person crossing the line being the winner of the race.

Jumpers usually fly through the air 100 meters or about the length of a Football Field. They are given a score that takes into account distance jumped and style /technique.

The design of the race is that the Athlete who is best at the combination of the two disciplines of Ski Jumping and Cross Country Skiing is the victor.

Today the Jumping Hill was in excellent condition and for the cross country portion they had prepared a challenging 2km loop which was negotiated 5 times.

As expected Anssi Koivuranta had the best jump of the day with Hannu Manninen showing his new found form coming in a close second. Gottwald had the 9th best jump and stayed in contention.

Koivuranta led off the race with a pack of 4  led by Manninen 16 sec back  in hot pursuit.

Gottwald started at 30 sec back in 9th.

Powerful Manninen went out with all barrels firing and quickly gained the lead.  Although after 2 loops Manninen looked like he was going to falter.

Gottwald slowly powered up to the front group and took a commanding lead. Gottwald in his comeback debut made winning by a commanding 26 seconds coming from behind look like an easy day at the office.

Manninen  regained his wind and led out and dominated Mario Stecher and Anssi Koivuranta  in a 3 man sprint for 2nd, 3rd and 4th.

Not far behind the frontrunner’s were a couple of packs of around  6-10 guys fighting tooth and nail for every place.  It was an action packed event for the spectator’s.

Both Felix Gottwald and Hannu Manninen showed promising form in their comeback debut’s.

They will be targets for all in the first World Cup next weekend.

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