%mlink(STRY:; PHOTO:; AUDIO:%)

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, Colo. (AP) _ Two-time Olympian Bill Demong overcame an ankle sprain, and capitalized on a fall by Todd Lodwick to win his second consecutive national title at the U.S. Nordic Combined Championship on Wednesday.

Demong, of Vermontville, N.Y., led the 90-meter jumping phase of the competition at Howelsen Hill. As a result of the handicap formula based on the results of the jumping, Demong started 12 seconds ahead of Lodwick in the 10-kilometer ski race.

Lodwick caught Demong before the 2-kilometer mark, but refused to take the lead, even when Demong moved to the side of the trail.

``We played cat-and-mouse for about 9-Ks,'' Demong said.

Just as Demong began his push to the finish at the 8-kilometer mark, Lodwick caught an edge, and went down.

Demong, who sprained his left ankle Friday while skiing at Steamboat Ski Resort, won by 56 seconds.

``These were tough conditions,'' Demong said. ``The snow was corn snow, like on the mountain, kind of slushy and it was a little cold.''