VAL DI FIEMME, Italy (AP) — Olympic champion Jason Lamy-Chappuis held off Mario Stecher and Bjorn Kircheisen in a sprint finish Friday to win the Nordic combined individual Gundersen title at the world championships.
Lamy-Chappuis was in 11th place after the ski jump on the normal hill, trailing leader Haavard Klemetsen by 1 minute, 13 seconds at the start of the 10-kilometer cross-country race. But he gradually worked his way up to the front and then won a four-way sprint to the finish, pushing his ski forward across the line in 29:13.2.
He beat Stecher, who has struggled with injury this season, by 0.2 seconds. Kircheisen was 0.3 seconds back after starting in 12th place. "It's incredible," Lamy-Chappuis told The Associated Press. "It's a great feeling to have done so well after a very difficult time in the jumping. It was windy this morning and after finishing 11th and so far back, I was a bit disappointed. That makes it all the more incredible.
"I really didn't think it was possible to come back and win. Starting over a minute further back, in 11th, I thought I could never make up all that ground, especially with such good cross-country skiers here. I thought if I was lucky I'd make the podium, but never win. It's definitely one of the best races of my career."
It is the 26-year-old's second world championship title after winning the 10K individual large hill event in 2011. Eric Frenzel, the 2011 champion who has won four World Cup events in the discipline this season, was 0.5 seconds behind in fourth place.
Stecher jumped furthest in the morning, with an impressive 106-meter effort but started 16 seconds behind Klemetsen. Frenzel started in sixth but quickly climbed up the field, taking the lead just after the halfway stage and tussling over it with Kircheisen.
Lamy-Chappuis caught up with the eight-strong leading group 2.5K from the finish line and tried to attack, but was swiftly reeled in. However, his second move on the final downhill proved more decisive and he held on to win the sprint.
It was an impressive race from Kircheisen, too, after starting 1:24 behind Klemetsen. "It was very nice this afternoon," the German said. "It wasn't an easy competition because of the problems in the jumping this morning, because of the wind.
"But then I did better in the cross-country. That was a very nice race, very fast." Klemetsen, who has won only one individual World Cup race in his career, finished fifth, 16.2 seconds back. There was disappointment for one of the pre-race favorites, Magnus Moan. The Norwegian, who is normally a strong cross-country skier, finished eighth in the jumping but slipped to 17th, 1:13.7 behind Lamy-Chappuis.