U.S. Combiners 5th in Team Event

U.S. Combiners 5th in Team Event{mosimage}OBERSTDORF, Germany (Feb. 23) – U.S. nordic combined skiers jumped to third place Wednesday in the team event at the World Nordic Ski Championships but couldn’t off Germany and Finland and tumbled to fifth place during the 4x5K relay. The gold medal went to Norway with Germany second and Austria third.

Bill Demong (Vermontville, NY) led the U.S. jumpers, going 129.5 and 125 meters while Carl Van Loan (Webster, NH), jumping the best of his career, gave the team a boost with jumps of 125.5 and 126 meters. The U.S. foursome began the 4x5K relay in third place, 36 seconds behind Norway.

Going into the final lap, the Americans still were third, seven seconds ahead of Austria. But an ailing Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO), who had skied just once in the previous week after injuring his lower back in jump training before the first combined event at Worlds, skied the anchor leg and tired on the hilly two-lap course as Felix Gottwald of Austria pulled past and then Finland’s Hannu Manninen, the World Cup leader, passed him in the final 500 meters.

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