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Todd Lodwick second behind Ronny Ackermann in German nordic combined


Todd Lodwick second behind Ronny Ackermann in German nordic combined{mosimage}RUHPOLDING, Germany – Todd Lodwick of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, earned his third World Cup podium of the season Sunday, finishing second behind World Cup leader Ronny Ackermann in a sprint with Bill Demong of Vermontville, New York turning in his best result in nearly three years as he finished 11th.

“It was raining, windy, snowy…we had it all,” said Bard Elden, the American nordic combined team’s coach. “But it was a good day. We’ll always take a podium and Todd skied well and Billy, of course, absolutely had an excellent day, too. It’s so good to see him ski this way.”

Ackermann was fourth in jumping, starting four seconds back of Lodwick, who had been third in the one-jump phase and they skied together through four of the six laps in the 7.5K race before Ackermann pulled away. He won by 13.1 seconds with Lodwick easing over the last stretch while Finn Hannu Manninen climbed from 21st in jumping to finish third. Johnny Spillane of Steamboat Springs, Colorado, was 25th and Eric Camerota of Park City, Utah was 41st in the second event of the German Grand Prix.

For Demong, it was the best result since the end of the 2002 Olympic season. He fractured his skull in a preseason swimming pool accident that summer, missed the ’03 season and struggled a year ago in his return. But the two-time Olympian won two World Cup-B events at the Lamb Lumber Classic last month in Lake Placid, N.Y., and led the B circuit for its five-event first period to reclaim a spot on the World Cup.

“That first comp back [finishing 36th Thursday in Oberhof] had me a little worried, jumping to next-to-last,” Demong said, “but today I was back up to normal. It’s not as if I haven’t been up here, so I wasn’t too nervous starting ninth [in the 7.5K]…

“I’m almost more scared on World Cup-B because you know there are so many unknowns. But winning twice at home was awesome – my family, the community support, just so many good feelings and it’s good to be back.”

Lodwick, the defending Grand Prix champion who skidded to 16th in Oberhof, said the conditions were a mix of wind and light rain or snow “so you just had to put your head down and keep going. This is an awesome hill – they’ve got five jumping hills, and the jumping and cross country facilities are together, and it’s a great venue. I hope we have more World Cups in Ruhpolding because they have the spectators, the nordic tradition and everything you want…

“I was a little sick over Christmas, and I think the travel and a combination of things got me in Oberhof, but I felt better today, had good skis – that’s always a key – and this is a happy start for the new year. Now, we’ve got Schonach – one of the kings [top venues in combined] – and that should be another good comp,” Lodwick said.

Elden said Lodwick dipped a bit as Ackermann pulled away in the final two laps, “but he picked it up again at the end. He looked good; he wasn’t going to let Hannu catch him.”

After six events, Ackermann is No. 1 in points at 540 with Manninen second (446) and Lodwick third (320). Spillane is seventh and Demong’s performance, coupled with his World Cup-B results lifted him to 16th in the points.

The next World Cup event is Wednesday in Schonach, followed by Jan. 8-9 in Seefeld, Austria, near Innsbruck.


WARSTEINER NORDIC COMBINED WORLD CUP
German Grand Prix
Ruhpolding, GER Jan. 2, 2005
HS128/7.5K FR

1. Ronny Ackermann, Germany, (4/8)
2. Todd Lodwick, Steamboat Springs, Colo., (3/12) 13.1 seconds back
3. Hannu Manninen, Finland, (21/1) 19.6
4. Petter Tande, Norway, (7.9) 44.2
5. Felix Gottwald, Austria, (18/3) 51.1
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11. Bill Demong, Vermontville, N.Y., (9/24) 1:41.5
25. Johnny Spillane, Steamboat Springs, Colo., (30/19) 2:18.6
41. Eric Camerota, Park City, Utah, (42/34) 3:43.7



Ski Racing Magazine LB1