Gottwald wins, U.S. puts 3 in top 8
The Americans crammed three men into the top eight of a World Cup Nordic Combined meet in Val di Fiemme, Italy, Saturday (Jan. 9) in a race won by Austria's Felix Gottwald.
Johnny Spillane powered to fourth, Todd Lodwick got sixth and Bill Demong eighth underscoring the strength of the U.S. squad of former World Champions.
Gottwald is making a comeback after retiring in 2007. Today's win was his first since January of 2007. It was the fourth straight time Gottwald has made it to a World Cup podium this season and he moved into second place on the Cup standings list behind early season sensation Jason Lamy Chappius of France. Chappius finished 10th at Val di Fiemme.
Norwegian Magnus Hovdal Moan won the cross country leg and wound up second on the day with Eric Frenzel of Germany third. Gottwald was relentless on the cross country track, finishing second to Moan and making up for a 21st placing in the jumping leg of the competition. Moan had been 37th in the jumping. After the race he thanked Moan for providing the fast pace he knew he needed.
"I am very happy with my competition jump today," said Gottwald. "It put me in a good position and I could start to run relaxed. Then, I was happy that Magnus Moan did arrive from behind and that he held the pace high."
Pacing has become more important with recent jump scoring changes making the sport more strategic than in the past. The U.S. skiers played critical roles. From the start of the cross country leg Lamy Chappius took the lead. Demong worked on closing the gap and took the lead of the first chase group. Two kilometers in, Spillane made a move, picking up 15 seconds over the next kilometer and took the lead of the second chase group.
As Demongs group caught the leaders - about midway through the 10k race - Spillane and Lodwick hooked in with Gottwald's chase group, with Demong taking the lead. He held that lead through seven kilometers then gave way to Lodwick.
At 8k the bulk of the field had merged with Moan taking over the lead and Gottwald grabbing his tails.
"When it gets down to a train of 15 people and everyone's stepping on poles instead of skiing, it's a different race," said head coach Dave Jarrett. "We need to get better at staking our claim in the pack and not getting knocked around."
At the finish the two leaders were simply overpowering. "Magnus and Felix are sking at a different level than the rest of the field right now," said Jarrett.
The new wind adjustment scoring system will not be employed at this season's Olympic Games.
Alex Miller placed 45th and Taylor Fletcher 56th for the U.S.
Gottwald image by GEPA
|10||2||610||LAMY CHAPPUIS Jason||1986||FRA||25:00.0|
|29||51||680||TANDE Petter L.||1985||NOR||26:24.0|
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|62||1796||JOHANSEN Truls Soenstehagen||1991||NOR|
|Did not finish|