Manninen beats Ackermann


LAHTI, Finland -- Defending champion Hannu Manninen of Finland clinched the Nordic Combined overall World Cup title Friday, after beating rival Ronny Ackermann in a sprint event.

Manninen, who was 10th after ski jumping, was sharp from the start of the cross-country portion and overtook Ackermann. The German started ninth, but only 12 meters ahead of Manninen.

After about eight minutes, Manninen moved to the top spot,
finishing in 19 minutes, 6.2 seconds.

"The situation after the ski jump was very good, with Ackermann
only about 10 meters ahead. I could go out with a relaxed mind,"
Manninen said.

Bjorn Kircheisen of Germany finished second, 2.5 seconds behind.
Ackermann was third, 22.3 behind, followed by Magnus Moan of

Manninen picked up his ninth win in 14 events this season. He
has 1,226 points overall, clinching the title with three events to
go, with Ackermann second (870). American Todd Lodwick, who was
eighth Friday, is third overall with 596 points.

Manninen won the World Cup last year, also beating Ackermann,
the 2002 and 2003 overall winner. Manninen had a terrible world
championships last month in Germany, where he failed to win a

"I made a brilliant performance here, I managed to get myself
together after the world championships," Manninen said. "Winning
here ... makes up for the worlds."

Ackermann concentrated on the world championships, where he won
two individual gold medals and played a part in Germany's silver
medal in the team event.