Hannu Manninen takes Oberhof in Nordic Combined

Posted By: Steve Bellamy on January 2, 2010 10:00 am

For the third time in his career, Hannu Manninen (FIN) has won a FIS Nordic Combined event in Oberhof. At the finish line, he beat Felix Gottwald (AUT) by 1.1 seconds and Jason Lamy Chappuis (FRA) by 2.4
Manninen, who was in eight spot after the ski jumping portion, achieved his 47th career victory and the second first place in three races after his comeback at the beginning of the current season.
The winner of the jumping session was Jason Lamy Chappuis with 132.0 m and 133.5 points; Tino Edelmann (GER) got second place (129.0 m/132.7 points), Wilhelm Denifl (AUT) was in third spot with 130.0 m and 131.6 points. Manninen (127.0 m/127.6 points) had an initial deficit of 24 seconds.
At the beginning of the cross-country race, Edelmann easily closed the gap to Chappuis. The two athletes, first and second in the overall World Cup standing as well, led until halftime of the race. Then, Manninen and seven other athletes closed the gap to the leaders.  In the third lap, other five guys joined the leading group which was 13 men strong at this moment.

“Everything goes perfectly. I had an incredible start of the season,” said Manninen. “The snow was soft on the track, which is not perfect for me. But I tried to concentrate on my technique. And then I only wanted to get Jason. On the last lap, I was really tired. Next to my training, I’m also concentrating of being a pilot soon. School will go on for other ten months, therefore I cannot compete in that many races.”

On the incline during the last 2.5 km, Bjoern Kircheisen (GER), Johnny Spillane (USA), Felix Gottwald and Jason Lamy Chappuis broke away and got some seconds of advantage. In the downhill part, only Hannu Manninen was able to reach the fugitives. On the final meters, Manninen was able to catch and beat Felix Gottwald, who was author of an incredible race (starting from 27th place) and the fastest athlete on the track (26:28.7 minutes).

“I’m happy only 50 % with my competition because the jump was really bad and I know that I can do better,” said Chappuis. “But the cross-country was okay, I thought that today I could beat Hannu Manninen, but on the final meters he was very strong. However, I am happy with today’s result – and I’m looking forward to tomorrow! I love to ski in Oberhof!”

The DKB FIS Nordic Combined World Cup will go on with a second competition in Oberhof (GER) tomorrow.
Today’s top three:
1. Hannu Manninen (FIN)                  127.6 points (8)/27:14.6 (3) 27:38.6
2. Felix Gottwald (AUT)                     115.8 points (27)/26:28.7 (1) +1.1
3. Jason Lamy Chappuis (FRA)      133.5 points (1)/27:41.0 (12) +2.5