=== Hettich captures nordic combined gold ===
Pragelato, Italy (Sports Network) - Germany's Georg Hettich held off a strong
push from Austria's Felix Gottwald to capture the nordic combined individual
Hettich, who held the lead after the ski jumping portion of the event,
finished the 15-kilometer cross-country race in a time of 39 minutes, 44.6
Gottwald, who started 1:52 behind Hettich after his 11th-place showing in the
jumping, made a great run but couldn't catch the leader and was just 9.8
seconds behind to grab silver.
Magnus-H. Moan of Norway was third and took the bronze, finishing 16.2 seconds
behind. He crossed the line just 1/10th of a second in front of teammate
Petter L. Tande.
American Todd Lodwick was 13th after the jumping and wound up eighth. In his
fourth Olympics, Lodwick was trying to give the United States its first-ever
medal in nordic combined.
"Fourth or 20th is the same place," a disappointed Lodwick said. "You're not
on the podium. I'm tired because I overtrained."
Hettich won the ski jumping portion of the event with a two-jump total of
262.5 and held a two-second head start on the field for the cross-country
race. His race time was just 18th fastest, but it was good enough to win his
first individual medal at an Olympic or even World Championship level.
"I'm very surprised," said Hettich. "After the last uphill, I realized I can
win a medal. I am very happy."
Gottwald, meanwhile, also had his best individual finish at the Olympic level.
"Magnus and I tried to close the gap and we closed it [too] late," Gottwald
Jaakko Tallus of Finland was fifth and teammate Hannu Manninen was a distant
ninth after entering the event as the favorite.
Bill Demong of the United States was 15th and fellow American Johnny Spillane
02/11 12:10:43 ET