Ackermann wins nordic combined World Cup opener in Kuusamo

Ackermann wins nordic combined World Cup opener in Kuusamo{mosimage}Former World Cup champion Ronny Ackermann of Germany took charge on the second leg Saturday and powered his way to victory in the opening nordic combined World Cup event of the winter. American Todd Lodwick finished third with teammate Johnny Spillane 11th.

Ackermann started 16 seconds behind Japan’s Daito Takahashi in the 15-kilometer race and grabbed the lead in the second leg and out-skied the field to win easily.

“It was a good day,” said Lodwick, who was passed in the final 100 meters of the race by defending World Cup champion Hannu Manninen of Finland. Manninen, 14th in jumping, was 29.7 seconds behind Ackermann. Lodwick was another 4.2 seconds back, nearly a minute ahead of Takahashi in fourth place.

“Ronny was way out there, but the three of us had a pretty good gap on the field…but Hannu’s just a mutant. He made up 36 seconds on me in the final [3.75km] lap,” Lodwick said in mock exasperation. “I was okay for three laps and then he really turned it on and I ran out of fuel.”

“We’re not too disappointed,” U.S. coach Bard Elden said. “They had some good head wind over the knoll and jumped well, but I think they’ve got some in reserve. This wasn’t a maximum performance, but it’s a good start.”

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