Americans win gold at nordic championships |

Americans win gold at nordic championships

Karel Janicek
The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado
United States' gold medal winner Todd Lodwick reacts after the 2nd jump after the Men's 10 km Mass start race at the Nordic Combined competitions of the Nordic World Ski Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic, Friday, Feb. 20, 2009. (AP Phtoto/Matthias Schrader)

LIBEREC, Czech Republic ” Todd Lodwick won the opening nordic combined event at the world championships Friday to give the United States two golds in one day.

Hours after Lindsey Van became the first women’s ski jumping world champion on the same hill, Lodwick defended his slim lead from the cross-country portion by completing jumps of 100.5 and 97.5 meters in difficult conditions. The ski jumping portion of the event was postponed from Thursday because of heavy snowfall and strong winds.

Lodwick finished with 276 points, while Tino Edelmann of Germany was second with 273.7 points. Jason Lamy Chappuis of France had the best jump in the second round to take the bronze with 265.2 points.

“Nobody dreams this, except me. I dream it,” Lodwick said. “So many times I was so close, and today it was my day. I had a feeling that today was my day. … It’s so hard to describe what I’m feeling right now. I trained very, very hard for this.”

Lodwick has never been on the podium at the worlds and has not won a World Cup event since 2004. He left the sport in 2006 but came out of retirement last year, saying he wanted to win a medal at next year’s Vancouver Olympics.

“I came back after the two-year break just because I wanted to,” Lodwick said. “Yesterday I definitely was the fastest runner. Today someone up there wanted me to win.”

Lodwick held a 1.3-point lead over Edelmann after the first jump and needed to clear 96 meters in the second to secure the win. He knew as soon as he landed that he had made it, raising both arms over his head and pointing his index fingers toward the sky.

After the result was confirmed on the leaderboard, Lodwick grabbed an American flag and ran around in the finish area, before waving it in front of photographers.

The American had seized the lead after the mass-start ski race Thursday, where he used a late sprint to pull away from Edelmann and American teammate Bill Demong.

Demong ended up fifth, behind Anssi Koivuranta of Finland.

Before Van’s victory, the United States had not won a gold at a nordic skiing worlds since 2003, when Johnny Spillane took a Nordic combined sprint. Spillane was 24th on Friday.

It was the first time a nordic combined event began with a mass start cross-country race at a major championship. The discipline normally starts with ski jumping, with the point total dictating the starting order for a cross-country pursuit that decides the winner.

A traditional nordic combined event is held Sunday.

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