Finland's Manninen grabs World Cup title; Spillane seventh, Lodwick 15th for U.S.

Finland’s Manninen grabs World Cup title; Spillane seventh, Lodwick 15th for U.S.{mosimage}USSA — Nordic combined sprint world champion Johnny Spillane picked up his fourth World Cup top-10 in three weeks Friday night, finishing seventh in a sprint at the Finnish Ski Games. Hannu Manninen of Finland was third and clinched the World Cup title while Todd Lodwick was 15th.

On the first day of the annual Salpaussela Ski Games, Spillane jumped to sixth place and finished 32.5 seconds behind Japan’s Daito Takahashi, who led the jumping en route to his first World Cup win. Felix Gottwald of Austria was second, just 1.1 seconds back with Manninen 8.1 seconds out.

Lodwick moved up five places during the 7.5km race to finish 15th, 1:18.5 behind the winner. It was the 99th top-15 of his World Cup career, including six World Cup wins.

“We had perfect conditions — beautiful weather but it was cold,” said U.S. head coach Bard Elden. “Johnny had a good race — it was tight up there with the leaders. The jumping was so close, so everyone was bunched pretty much. [Austrian Christoph] Bieler was second in jumping and he beat Johnny by a stride and a half at the end. Todd had a tough jump but he beat [German Sebastien] Haseney by a half-stride, by a tenth of a second. … Johnny hung with Hannu when he came up, and he stuck with him as long as he could before Hannu left him.”

Said Lodwick, “Hannu’s been on fire and he’s a good champion. Nobody’s been able to stay with him … and he had the fastest race again today. It’s so good to see Johnny doing well.”

The World Cup season ends Saturday with an individual event, concluding with a 15km race. As for making that race his 100th top-15 result, Lodwick said, “That was a goal of mine when the season started. It’s still my goal. I’m tired … pretty weary of traveling, but I’m going out to win [Saturday] because that would be a nice way to mark No. 100.”

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