CHAUX-NEUVE, France (Jan. 23) – Olympic silver medalist Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) jumped third and hung on in a hotly contested battle to finish eighth in a nordic combined World Cup in Chaux-Neuve in the Jura mountains near Geneva. All four U.S. skiers finished in the top-30 points as France’s Jason Lamy-Chappuis wrapped up the World Cup title with a dominating win.
While the podium still eluded the USA, it was another steppingstone event in the Team’s preparation for the World Championships which begin Feb. 23 at Holmenkollen in Oslo. Three-time Olympic silver medalist Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO) was 17th, just a week after returning to action following a six month rehab from a knee injury. Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) was 26th and Bryan Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) 27th.
In the jumping round, Lodwick soared to a 114.5 meter jump to hold the lead for some time before finishing third. Lamy-Chappuis led the jump with a 115.5 meter ride to take a 37 second lead over Norway’s Haavard Klemetsen and 39 over Lodwick.
German Eric Frenzel flew to a hill record 120.0 meters, but had his score reduced as a part of the wind compensation rules. He was fourth in the jump.
“On the surface, four guys in the top 30 – we haven’t done that in a while,” said Nordic Combined Head Coach Dave Jarrett.
Little changed with the leaders in the early stages of the 10k cross country. Lamy-Chappuis extended his lead by a few seconds over the chase group of Lodwick and Klemetsen. But about 10 seconds back from the chasing duo a huge train was forming led by Austrians Felix Gottwald and Saturday’s winner David Kreiner along with Norwegian Mikko Kokslien.
At the midway mark, the drama began with the packs combining but still nearly 40 seconds behind the World Cup leader Lamy-Chappuis. Another chase pack had also developed another 15-20 seconds back, which included Spillane.
Despite the pulling power of Gottwald, Kokslien and Kreiner, the chase group could not advance on the leader. The pack slowly chipped away at his lead but was still nearly 20 seconds back going into the final kilometer. Lamy-Chappuis was able to cruise into the finish a winner, with Gottwald 7.2 seconds back, just ahead of Kokslien in third.
“It was certainly a much better jumping competition for Todd today – a solid competition for him,” said Jarrett. “He’s been battling a bit of sickness lately and it’s still bothering him a bit. What he managed to do with the group around him was great. He ran out of gas a little bit on the second half of the last lap and couldn’t quite match the pace.”
Spillane, who finished 17th, held his own in the second chase pack but was never able to bridge up to the front. But he continued to make huge progress in his cross country with the sixth fastest time. He also stayed tip to tail with Norway’s speed demon Magnus Moan most of the race.
“Johnny had a really solid race again,” added Jarrett. Ironically, in his three previous starts this season, Spillane had finished 33rd, 23rd and 13th. “Before the race, Johnny was joking that maybe with that sequence he would be third fastest today,” said Jarrett. The 2003 World Champion didn’t quite get there, but was close with his sixth fastest time.
Demong improved slightly from his jump Saturday but still was back in 43rd and skied the 15th fastest cross country leg to take 26th. Fletcher was in the points yet again in 27th.
“Bryan had another good race and skied with Johnny most of the way,” said Jarrett. “Today was one of those days where you really had to be the boss of your own personal space on the course. It was a good learning experience again for Bryan.”
The win gave Lamy-Chappuis a repeat World Cup title with just one event remaining, a mid-March competition in Lahti, Finland. The World Cup will now take a break until the World Championships, which begin Feb. 23. The opening nordic combined event is Sat. Feb. 25.
The U.S. Ski Team will train primarily in Park City, UT over the next month, with a special focus on jump training at the Utah Olympic Park. The Team will return to Norway a week before World Championships for training in on the Olympic venues in Lillehammer.
FIS Nordic Combined World Cup
Chaux Neuve, France – Jan. 22, 2010
(jump rank/XC rank, time back)
1. Jason Lamy-Chappuis, France (1/26) 22:00.3
2. Felix Gottwald, Austria (19/1) +7.2 seconds
3. Mikko Kokslien, Norway (13/3) +7.4
4. David Kreiner, Austria (6/8T) +8.4
5. Tino Edelmann, Germany (11/4) +11.9
8. Todd Lodwick, Steamboat Springs, CO (3/21) +20.7
17. Johnny Spillane, Steamboat Springs, CO (36/6) +1:06.8
26. Bill Demong, Vermontville, NY (43/15) +1:38.2
27. Bryan Fletcher, Steamboat Springs, CO (34/20) +1:39.3