Berni Gruber from Austria and Team USA's Todd Lodwick won the first two races of the Nordic Combined Summer Grand Prix held at Sochi, Russia. Gruber showed off his great ski jumping form by winning the ski jumping parts of both competitions. On Saturday, he started with a 7-second advance on Akito Watabe from Japan and managed to keep Watabe and strong skier Todd Lodwick at bay who advanced on the leading duo from a 9th position. On the last uphill, Watabe couldn't keep up with Gruber and Lodwick anymore. In the end, Gruber showed the stronger finish than his adversaries and finished 4.3 seconds ahead of Lodwick and 34.4 seconds ahead of Watabe.
On Sunday, Todd Lodwick managed to turn the tables. Starting from a fifth position and 29 seconds back, Lodwick caught up with the leader Gruber on the third lap of the cross-country race and managed to beat the Austrian in a sprint finish. Gruber's teammate Tomaz Druml also showed a strong cross-country performance by capturing rank 3 after having started as 11th.
During the whole weekend, the athletes had to deal with a rather unusual problem: the heat in Sochi. Sunday's competition was the warmest SGP ever registered with a scorching 36°C. "On Saturday, there where some tendencies of overheating, so we need to think about he athletes health and safety" said the Chief of Competition, Dimitry Dubrovski. This is why a water station was set up for the cross-country race.
On the whole, winner Todd Lodwick showed himself to be impressed with the Organising Committee: "The organizers have made us feel like VIPs and done everything possible for us to enjoy our stay here. It was very warm today, and the water station help me gain the energy I needed to beat Gruber at the end." Bernhard Gruber also draws a very positive conclusion: "What a great weekend. I felt very good before the trip to Sochi but having this confirmed by a first and a second place is a very nice feeling. A first getting to know the Olympic hill and tracks cannot go any better."