Spillane fifth in Holmenkollen World Cup; Ackermann keeps title hopes alive

Spillane fifth in Holmenkollen World Cup; Ackermann keeps title hopes alive{mosimage}USSA — Johnny Spillane finished fifth Sunday in a nordic combined World Cup event as he continued his rebound from early season illness. Ronny Ackermann of Germany won to keep alive his hopes of defending his World Cup title and Todd Lodwick was 20th.

With two events remaining next weekend in Lahti, Finland, Ackermann trails World Cup leader Hannu Manninen of Finland by 187 points, so mathematically he still has a chance. However, with Manninen expected to do well in front of Finnish fans, it’s a slim chance; Ackermann would have to win both events and have Manninen, who was eighth Sunday, score less than 14 points.

Ackermann was second in the jumping behind Austrian David Zauner, but he skied strongly through the 15km race and was 23 seconds ahead of Finn Samppa Lajunen at the finish. Spillane, fifth in jumping, was 51.8 seconds out while Lodwick moved up three places during the race and was 2:15 back.

“It’s good to have Johnny back in full momentum,” said head coach Bard Elden. “He was 10th [Saturday in the sprint] and now fifth. It’s been a good weekend for him. He was frustrated last week in Liberec [Czech Republic] because he felt he was getting things turned around and then he had that bad wind. I told him he can’t let one bad jump take away that good feeling … and this weekend it was back.”

Lodwick saw his string of consecutive top-10 finishes end at 13 but said, “Nothing lasts forever. I’ll have to start again next week in Lahti … but, more importantly now, it’s good to see Johnny back jumping and skiing well. It was a tough start to the season for him.”

The nordic combined tour winds up the season with the Finnish Ski Games in Lahti March 6 and 7.

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