Spillane Becomes First American to Win Nordic World Gold


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VAL DI FIEMME, Italy (AP by Andrew Dampf)–Johnny Spillane won the nordic combined sprint Friday to become the first American to win a gold medal at the Nordic world championships.

After placing fourth in the jumping competition, Spillane broke away from a leading group of four skiers in the final meters of the 7.5-kilometer cross-country portion of the event.

Celebrating wildly as he crossed the line, Spillane beat Germany’s Ronny Ackermann and Austrian Felix Gottwald by 1.3 seconds.

Ackermann earned the silver medal and Gottwald claimed the bronze.

Spillane earned the first world championship medal for the United States since cross-country skiing pioneer Bill Koch earned a bronze at the 1982 worlds in Oslo, Norway.

Also Friday, Russia’s Olga Savialova and Elena Burukina finished 1-2 in the 30K freestyle cross-country race.

Savialova’s winning time of 1 hour, 14 minutes, 29.8 seconds was 15.3 seconds faster than Burukina. Estonia’s Kristina Smigun finished third, 26.9 seconds back.

Italy’s Gabriella Paruzzi was fourth, 32.7 seconds off the pace.

Savialova, who was third in the 15K classical and 10K skiathon, won her first major title.

Norway’s Bente Skari missed her third event due to illness.

American Aubrey Smith finished 39th, more than 10 minutes back. Canadian Beckie Scott was 10th, a little more than three minutes behind the winner.

Individual normal hill ski jumping was scheduled for later Friday.

Copyright © 2000 The Associated Press