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Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane finish 1-2 at Summer Grand Prix event in Germany


Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane finish 1-2 at Summer Grand Prix event in Germany{mosimage}Todd Lodwick of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, shook off the frustration of being disqualified about 40 hours earlier, and came back Sunday to win the second nordic combined Summer Grand Prix event with teammate Johnny Spillane (also Steamboat) a whisker behind in second place.

After two of six events, Spillane leads the standings with Lodwick in third place. The two took the prize money from Sunday’s event and split it down the middle.

“We wanted to finish together,” Spillane said, “and about 50 meters from the finish we came together, got our arms together and coasted to the finish together because we wanted to tie for the win. But they went to a photo finish and decided Todd was about a half-centimeter ahead of me. That’s okay – we went 1-2 and we dominated today.”

Lodwick, who was runnerup a year ago in the Grand Prix standings, was DQ’d Friday night in Kandersteg, Switzerland, when the jury enforced a new rule mandating a brake on the athletes’ inline skates during the Grand Prix. He added, “Everyone was here, so this is even more impressive to – in our minds – tie for the win. It was a strong field and Johnny and I were the strongest.”

Lodwick, who jumped 130 and 138 meters, finished second behind Norwegian Petter Tande on the large hill (HS137) with Spillane – jumping 130 and 136.5 – third, just .1 points back. All three had a big margin at the start of the 15K, nine-lap race through the downtown area and a nearby residential section of the community, which will host the 2005 nordic World Championships in February. The Americans, starting 11 seconds later, caught Tande after the first lap and skied up to the group in the second lap. “We finished 34 seconds ahead of Tande,” Lodwick said, “and it would have been another 15, 20 seconds if we hadn’t taken it easy at the end. We’re psyched.”

He was third last February with Spillane, finally healthy after nearly three months of sickness, finishing fifth in a World Cup sprint event in Oberstdorf. “This really gives us even more confidence for Worlds,” Lodwick said. “It’s a terrific jumping hill and now Johnny and I really know we can do well in cross country.”

Bill Demong (Vermontville, NY) was 20th in jumping and held his position in the race while Carl Van Loan (Webster, NH) was 39th. Eric Camerota (Park City, UT) did not start since the U.s. was restricted to four starters.

“It was a good day, obviously,” said Lasse Ottesen, the team’s new jumping head coach who is team leader for the Grand Prix swing. “Todd and Johnny had long jumps and Bill, who doesn’t care for the blades, still held his position; if he were on snow, he’d be skiing faster and would have moved up.”

All agreed they were pleased with the ski jumping, which is one of the primary goals of the Grand Prix for the Americans – to ensure they’re competitive in the jumping. Lodwick was third Friday in the jumping with Demong ninth and Spillane 14th. “It’s good for everyone’s confidence to see what we’ve been working on is paying off,” Ottesen said. “We’re got plenty more to do, but they see we’re going in the right direction.”

“Neither of my jumps were that special but they went far,” Spillane said, “and I know I have to work more on my timing. But to jump this competitively and know I can do a whole better is tremendous. The winds in Kandersteg were crazy but they were more consistent here, so it was more fair for the last 20 guys or so.”

The next Grand Prix event is Aug. 21 in Bishofshofen, Austria.



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