FILE UNDER -- Nordic

Manninen takes narrow victory in NC mass pursuit

Manninen takes narrow victory in NC mass pursuit{mosimage}VAL DI FIEMME, Italy (Jan. 14) – World Cup leader Hannu Manninen of Finland held on to nip teammate Anssi Koivuranta by one-tenth of a point in the 10 km race in a nordic combined World Cup mass start event Saturday.

The mass start begins with a 10 km race, then moves to ski jumping, a reversal of the traditional jump-then-ski format. Koivuranta, who has become one of the sport’s premier jumpers, had the longest jump on each round – 125 and 133.5 meters – but came up .1 short of overtaking Manninen, who had 243.0 points.

American Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO) was disqualified for a suit violation. ‘It was tough, pretty frustrating. Johnny’s had the same suit for the last three competitions and he passed the first two and today he didn’t’ said Spillane’s coach Lasse Ottesen. ‘It was a half-centimeter short in one section, so they DQ’d him.’

Ottesen staged a mini-jumping camp in Lillehammer, Norway, earlier in the week, where Spillane was able to get the first sustained jump training since reinjuring his right shoulder in November. ‘It was a good camp and Johnny was making progress when we came down here. He just needs more jumps, and he needs more skiing…and he needs patience, which he’s shown.

‘But the focus is the Olympics, and he’s going in the right direction, making progress, moving forward with small steps, not trying to get it all done in one day.’

The combiners have a sprint competition Sunday and then Spillane will return home. The U.S. Nordic Combined Olympic Team will be named Monday and the U.S. championship will be staged Friday at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs, Colo.

Val di Fiemme, ITA – Jan. 14, 2006
Mass start (10K/LH)
1. Hannu Manninen, Finland, (1/10) 243.0 points
2. Anssi Koivuranta, Finland, (18/1) 242.9
3. Christoph Bieler, Austria, (14/2) 242.0
4. Jaakko Tallus, Finland, (5/6) 240.1
5. Jason Lamy Chappuis, France, (13/4) 237.5

Disqualified (uniform violation):
Johnny Spillane, Steamboat Springs, Colo.

-Courtesy USSA news bureau

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