U.S. Nordic Combined Team stacked for 2013
With a strong summer of preparation behind, the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team has its sights set on the 2013 World Championships and the Olympics in Sochi just a year away.
A talented squad of 10 athletes, including three newcomers, was officially named during a final pre-season tune-up camp on the World Championship jumps in Italy following a camp at the Center of Excellence in Utah.
A-Teamers of Billy Demong, Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane, together, account for a dozen Olympic and World Championship medals along with Bryan Fletcher’s stunning season-ending victory in the King’s Cup at Holmenkollen in Norway.
"This is a team with great depth - never in history have we had ten nordic combined guys who are so close," said Olympic champion Demong. "The first time trial of the year I was seventh but not even a minute back in a race 25 minutes long. We've had different guys take the lead over the course of the summer to push the team in training but especially Bryan (Fletcher) who has continued to be a yardstick on the jump hill, while his brother (Taylor Fletcher) is the toughest on the cross country side.
"I am still following the roadmap I laid out after Vancouver. After a year almost off followed by a season of increased training and focus where I managed to get back on the podium, I am continuing to ramp it up mentally and physically."
The FIS World Cup season opens Nov. 24-25 on the Olympic venue in
Lillehammer, Norway. The FIS Nordic Ski World Championships return to
Val di Fiemme, Italy Feb. 20-Mar. 3, the site of Spillane’s breakthrough
World Championship gold 10 years ago.
"Coming off last season with a win definitely kick started some momentum heading into training this summer," said Holmenkollen King’s Cup champion Fletcher. "The most exciting thing is the momentum hasn’t worn off. Our team has picked up that momentum and is working hard to keep the ball rolling through the next season - hopefully helping all of us take that next step both individually and as a team.
"This season is definitely important for many reasons, the most prominent reason being World Championships," Fletcher added. "Athletes particularly value this World Champs because it is the biggest event that precedes the Olympics. On the whole scale however this season is important because it’s a great chance to improve before the Olympics. There is a lot of experience that can be gained and a chance to put yourself in a great position results wise before the Olympic year. … Obviously a medal at World Championships would create some great momentum heading into next season. If nothing less this season signifies the countdown toward the Olympics, which I think every athlete gets a little giddy thinking about the next two years!"
Three newcomers were added to the B Team including Adam Loomis, Erik Lynch and Michael Ward.
"Everyone has done a good job preparing for the season and we are psyched to start with strong A and B Teams," said Head Coach Dave Jarrett. "We have two important seasons coming up with World Championships and Olympics. We want to execute this year so that we have confidence going into the Olympic season.
"The mix of youth and experience is good and the competition among teammates is making everyone better and keeping everyone honest," said the coach. "Bryan (Fletcher), Taylor (Fletcher), Todd (Lodwick), and Johnny (Spillane) have had a solid summer of training among the A-Team. Billy (Demong) is still working on equipment issues but we expect him to running on all cylinders soon. Nick Hendrickson, Adam Loomis and Michael Ward have taken a huge step this summer from the B-Team."
Five Team athletes are enrolled in the U.S. Ski Team’s partnership program with Westminster College in Salt Lake City including Brett Denney, Bryan Fletcher, Taylor Fletcher, Nick Hendrickson and Adam Loomis.
2013 U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team
• Billy Demong, Vermontville, N.Y., New York Ski Education Foundation
• Bryan Fletcher, Steamboat Springs, Colo., Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
• Todd Lodwick, Steamboat Springs, Colo. Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
• Johnny Spillane, Steamboat Springs, Colo, Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
• Brett Denney, Steamboat Springs, Colo., Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
• Taylor Fletcher, Steamboat Springs, Colo., Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
• Nick Hendrickson, Park City, Utah, Park City Nordic Ski Club
• Adam Loomis, Eau Claire, Wisc., Eau Claire Flying Eagles Ski Club
• Erik Lynch, Steamboat Springs, Colo., Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club
• Michael Ward, Aspen, Colo., Aspen Valley Ski and Snowboard Club
Dave Jarrett, Head Coach
Chris Gilbertson, World Cup Jumping Coach
Greg Poirer, Continental Cup Coach/Development Coach
Photos: USSA/Margo Christiansen