FILE UNDER -- Nordic

Seefeld NC: Manninen clinches season title; Lodwick 2nd in race

Seefeld NC: Manninen clinches season title; Lodwick 2nd in race{mosimage}SEEFELD, Austria – Hannu Manninen of Finland clinched the overall World Cup title in nordic combined after winning Sunday’s competition.

Manninen won after the 15-kilometer cross-country race with a time of 37 minutes, 40.3 seconds, beating Todd Lodwick of the United States and Christoph Bieler of Austria.

Lodwick finished 10.2 seconds behind Manninen, the favorite heading into next month’s Torino Olympics.

Bieler, who won the ski jump, trailed by 17.5 seconds.

Manninen won the overall title with 1,264 points. Magnus Moan finished second with 605 points, followed by Mario Stecher of Austria with 541.

American Brett Camerota made his World Cup debut, finishing 28th.

Manninen was sixth in the normal hill (HS100) ski jumping and started the 15K more than two minutes back of Austrian Christoph Bieler, the jump leader. He caught Lodwick at the end of four laps and they caught Bieler at the end of the fifth lap; Manninen pulled away from Lodwick midway through the final lap.

‘It’s coming. Things are getting better and better’ said Lodwick, who was third Saturday in the 7.5 km sprint after missing nine World Cup competitions. He was at home for seven weeks with his wife Sunny for the birth of their first child, a daughter.

‘It’s pretty satisfying to come back and be on the podium twice in two days, to know I’m still up there. I’ve got some stuff to work on before the Olympics’ he said, ‘but I’m happy with where I am. It’s been a good weekend of skiing.’

Once Manninen caught him, he skied with him until the tall Finn made his break. ‘The hills weren’t too bad because this course has a lot of flat to it, too’ Lodwick said. ‘We reeled-in Bieler and then skied together, but I couldn’t stay with him. I was tired after [Saturday’s sprint event].’

Coach Dave Jarrett said Lodwick had fought off a tailwind in his jumping, which normally pushes a jumper down, to finish second behind Bieler. ‘Obviously, Todd jumped well and then he skied with Manninen until this uphill at the end when Hannu skied away and Todd couldn’t catch him. But it was a really good weekend for him and shows he’s ‘there’ so now we have to keep Todd at this peak.

‘Brett jumped pretty well but even though he’s one of the faster guys on World Cup-B, he found out there are a lot of fast guys on World Cup-A. This is different up here, but he did well for his first World Cup. He’s been having a good year and this should help him believe he can do it.’

Camerota replaced Bill Demong, who is battling an apparent strep throat. Former sprint world champion Johnny Spillane skipped the weekend events to rest before the Olympics.

There are no more combined events before the Olympics. The U.S. combiners will have a training camp in Val di Fiemme, Italy, before heading to Torino for the Winter Games.

– USSA/The Associated Press

Nordic combined World Cup results
1. Hannu Manninen, Finland, 37 minutes, 40.3 seconds
2. Todd Lodwick, United States, 37:50.5
3. Christoph Bieler, Austria, 37:57.8
4. Felix Gottwald, Austria, 38:03.9
5. Magnus Moan, Norway, 38:23.4
6. Petter Tande, Norway, 38:25.6
7. Mario Stecher, Austria, 38:25.7
8. Bjoern Kircheisen, Germany, 39:14.8
9. Georg Hettich, Germany, 39:17.6
10. Thorsten Schmitt, Germany, 39:23.4

Overall World Cup standings
1. Hannu Manninen, Finland, 1,264 points
2. Magnus Moan, Norway, 605
3. Mario Stecher, Austria, 541
4. Felix Gottwald, Austria, 523
5. Christoph Bieler, Austria, 519

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