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TORINO: NC: Lodwick 8th, hopes for stronger result in team competition

TORINO: NC: Lodwick 8th, hopes for stronger result in team competition{mosimage}PRAGELATO, Italy – U.S. nordic combined skier Todd Lodwick, in 13th place after the jumping portion of the Olympic individual normal-hill Gundersen, finished eighth overall following the 15-kilometer cross-country race.

German Georg Hettich won the gold medal as he placed first in jumping and 18th in the cross-country race. Austrian Felix Gottwald took silver in a photo finish over Norwegian Magnus Moan.

Also for the U.S. team, Billy Demong came in 15th, Johnny Spillane was 30th and Brett Camerota placed 38th. It was Camerota’s first Olympic start.

Lodwick, who’s been battling the flu and head congestion, had the sixth-fastest time in the 15 km at 38:54.6. Race winner Sebastian Haseney of Germany had the best time at 37:15.7.

“My body feels great, legs feel great, arms feel good, lungs are good, I think I’m in the best cross-country shape I’ve been in since 2002,” said Lodwick. “It sucks that a head cold was a factor for me in this morning’s competition (jump). I didn’t feel like myself at all. I don’t rememeber that much of the first jump — I just remember being up there and it was over — it felt like I had a bowling ball on my head. But I am in really good shape, I really am.”

The 15 km was comprised of four 3.75 km laps. Two of the laps were in the flats with the other two taking place in the hills.

Lodwick earned 232.0 points for his jumps of 97.0 m and 95.5 m, good for 13th place entering the race. Between events, Hettich led with 262.5 points on jumps of 101.5 m and 104.0 m. Gottwald was in 11th and Moan sat in ninth.

“I’m really excited I started today,” Lodwick said. “It was an emotional decision. I didn’t know if I wanted to or not, or to save it for the team (event). I think we showed today that we can be a force in the team event. I was really excited Brett skied today to start his Olympic career.”

Demong, 19th after jumping, came out of the cross-country start hot, but couldn’t keep up the pace.

“I had a race where I started out at a pace I thought was right and things didn’t exactly come together to be a medal performance,” said Demong. “I was 15th (overall) and I have just a few things to identify on the jump hill — the difference in training eighth or ninth instead of finishing 19th.”

Spillane was tied with Demong in 19th after jumping.

“After that first seven-and-a-half K’s I pretty much hit the wall and used the rest of the race to ski it out of my system and work it out rather than just pulling over,” said Spillane. “Overall, it was was a tough day, but I’m not too worried about it. I was just trying to make some improvements and I really did that on the jump hill. I’m really looking forward to the big hill because I think I’ll have some really good results there.”

“It didn’t go the way we wanted on the jump hill,” said U.S. head coach Bard Elden. “There was a good chance for Todd, but he was a little tense and not quite doing what he can do. The same with Billy. Actually, for Johnny this was one of his best performances on small hills in years. And Brett also did a really good job.”

The next Olympic nordic combined event will be the large-hill team competition on Wednesday, Feb. 15. The four-man U.S. squad will be chosen from training results with an emphasis on jumping as most of the skiers are close in cross-country.

- USSA

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