Skier Lajunen Wins Nordic Combined
Feb. 05, 1999
SAALFELDEN, Austria (AP) _ Olympic silver medalist and former World Cup champion Samppa Lajunen of Finland started two seconds ahead and finished nearly a minute ahead of everyone in a 10-kilometer ski race Thursday to win the gold medal in nordic combined at the World Junior Championships.
Lajunen took the lead Wednesday in the 90-meter jumping and was two seconds ahead of teammate Jouni Kaitainen to start the 10K second half of the two-day combined event. He finished 56 seconds ahead of Kaitainen, with Switzerland's Andi Hartmann taking the bronze by turning in the fastest cross-country time to move up from 13th place.
Bill Demong of Vermontville, N.Y., 28th after the jumping, moved up to 13th place, while Johnny Spillane of Steamboat Springs, Colo., 32nd in jumping, finished 19th overall.
A spot in the first 12 finishers would guarantee a place on the World Cup next season.
``We knew it would be tough after the jumping. We were hoping for a top-12, and Bill did a great job in coming from way back and getting close ... but he just couldn't catch that group,'' said U.S. coach Baard Joergen Elden.
In the 90-meter team jumping event, Austria earned 962.0 points to edge second-place Germany (952.5). The United States was 14th in the 16-team field.
The championships will stage the cross-country relays Friday before the four-man nordic combined team event is held on Saturday.