Manninen beats Ackermann

Updated: March 4, 2005, 12:34 PM ET
Associated Press

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 Norway.

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 medal.

"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.

Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press