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    Friday, January 9, 1998

    Austrian Stecher takes lead after ski jumping portion

     RAMSAU, Austria (AP) -- Mario Stecher of Austria took advantage of favorable wind conditions to post the longest jump of the day Friday and take a 48-second lead into the cross-country race of a Nordic combined World Cup event.
     Stecher soared 96.5 meters metres in his second series after the wind conditions had stabilized for the last group of jumpers.
     Earlier, side and tail winds hampered the competitors.
     Combined with his first jump of 91 metres, Stecher earned a total of 247.5 points, which translated into a 48-second lead over second-placed Bjarne Engen Vik of Norway.
     Vik had jumps of 89 and 95 metres from the 90-metre hill for 239.5 points.
     The 15-kilometre race will be held today.