Beitostolen, Norway Dec. 2, 2001 (USSA)--A newly confident Todd Lodwick(Steamboat Springs, CO) led all the way Sunday in a 15-km cross countryrace to lock-up the fifth nordic combined World Cup victory of hiscareer, this time by more than a minute over defending World Cupchampion Felix Gottwald of Austria. Bill Demong (Vermontville, NY) was12th.
Lodwick had led the 90-meter jumping phase of the two-day event Saturdayin Lillehammer and started 25 seconds ahead of Finn Jaakko Tallus, 93seconds ahead of Gottwald.
Sking in 18-degree weather, he lengthened his lead during the first twokilometers and then cruised home while Gottwald had to hold offNorwegian Preben Brynemo for second place. Lodwick's winning margin was1:11.7 with Brynaemo third, another 25 seconds out. Demong, who was 40thafter the first round of jumping Saturday before uncorking the longestjump in the second round (with Lodwick having the second longest), was3:36.4 back of his teammate in 12th.
"I wanted to go out at about 80 percent and see how I felt," Lodwicksaid, "but at two Ks I was up 1:55 and I figured I was in good shape andI backed off. After not feeling 100 percent a week earlier in theseason opening events in Kuopio Finland, this feels really good.
"I wish all the World Cups were like this. I won last year in Steamboatby 40 seconds and won the first time December 1995 by more than aminute, but then it was a second and a half in Schonach January 1998and another sprint at the end in Holmenkollen 1998, so this was morefun," he said.
Taking time off in the fall helped revive Lodwick, who checked with hiscoaches and mutually agreed he should have some time away from skiing."I came back feeling great and the new skis and new boots have mefeeling confident again," the two-time Olympian said.
"It's hard to be dissatisfied with this with result," Demong said."After that first jump Saturday... well, put one great jump with onecrummy one, and then have a good race, it's good. I certainly wasn'tthinking top-15 after that first jump."
Said Head Coach Tom Steitz, "No complaints. Todd was never challenged.After they got that meter of snow this week, conditions were good andcold, and he gave everyone the message right away that he was in charge.And another good one for Billy." He said Johnny Spillane (SteamboatSprings, CO), who was 28th in jumping and figured to move up in the15-km, did not start because of a bad sore throat. "It would've beennice to get some points, but it's far more important to have Johnnyhealthy in February, so no sense taking any chances here."
The U.S. threesome competes Dec. 7 in Zakopane, Poland, and Dec. 9 inStrbske Pleso, Slovakia, before returning to Steamboat for the annualSki Town USA Nordic Combined World Cup presented by L.L. Bean Dec.16-18. The U.S. Ski Team Gold Cup, with an automatic Olympic berth and$10,000 for the winner, is Dec. 19.