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Published: Sunday, 2/14/2010

U.S. wins first medal in Nordic combined

ASSOCIATED PRESS

WHISTLER, B.C. — The Americans broke through the Nordic combined barrier Sunday, winning their first Olympic medal in the sport dominated since its inception by the Europeans.

But it could have been even better.

Jason Lamy Chappuis — who was born in Missoula, Mont., but has always raced for France — overtook Johnny Spillane on the final straightaway for the gold medal, winning the individual race in 25 minutes, 47.1 seconds, four-tenths of a second ahead of Spillane.

Italy's Alessandro Pittin won the bronze, finishing eight-tenths of a second behind Chappuis and just ahead of American Todd Lodwick.

Spillane and Lodwick, both of Steamboat Springs, Colo., took turns leading the way for much of the race. Spillane looked to have an insurmountable lead as he made his final turn, but Chappuis surged to the front to win the event, which features one jump on the normal hill and a 10-kilometer cross-country race.

Lodwick started in second place behind Finland's Janne Ryynaenen, who had the longest jump of the day. Spillane started in fourth, 44 seconds behind Ryynaenen and Chappuis in fifth, 46 seconds behind the leader.



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