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Other Skiing Saturday, 16 February, 2002, 17:46 GMT
Finns fly to combined lead
An unidentified jumper in action during the Nordic combined
The event was initially postponed due to high winds
Finland have won the ski jumping section of the Nordic combined team competition.

The event, which was originally postponed due to high winds, took place on Saturday morning with Austria and the USA filling the other provisional medal positions.

The Finnish four of Jari Mantila, Jaakko Tallus, Hannu Manninen, and Samppa Lajunen finished the event with 486.5 points - a lead of 19 over the Austrian team.

That gives them a healthy 44 second headstart going into the cross-country leg on Sunday.

Austria finished in second place, with 938.5 points, while the United States came in third with 905.0 points to start 1min 34 secs behind the Finns.

I already have my gold medal, so there is not as much stress now. I am much more relaxed and am enjoying the competition

Samppa Lajunen, Finland team

Defending champions Norway though had a torrid time, finishing in tenth and last place with only 791.5 points and a 4:24min deficit ahead of day two.

"I think our chances for the gold medal are fantastic now," said Lajunen who was part of the Finnish side which won silver in Nagano four years ago.

"Everyone is doing fine and we are confident about our cross country skiing. Austria has a good chance too but they will have to ski fast to catch us."

Lajunen admits he is helped by the fact that the pressure is off him after his victory in the individual event at Salt Lake City.

"I already have my gold medal, so there is not as much stress now. I am much more relaxed and am enjoying the competition," he said.

The second leg of the event, the 4x5km relay, gets underway at 2000GMT on Sunday.

Links to more Other Skiing stories are at the foot of the page.

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