Nordic combined, jumping seasons to kick off in Finland


Nordic combined, jumping seasons to kick off in Finland{mosimage}The ski jumping and nordic combined World Cup seasons open this weekend in northernmost – and mostly snowless – Finland, which is experiencing unseasonally nonwinter weather.

Cross-country races also are planned at Kuusamo’s annual Nordic Opening weekend. The schedule:

Friday, Nov. 24:
- Nordic combined Gundersen (HS142/15km),
- Ski jumping, HS142 (night event)

Saturday, Nov. 25:
- Cross-country: classic races, Men’s 15km, women’s 10km
- Ski jumping, HS142 (night event)

Sunday, Nov. 26:
- Cross-country: freestyle races, Men’s 15km, women’s 10km
- Nordic combined sprint (HS142/7.5K)

“We don’t have a lot of snow; in fact, it’s been raining today, it’s slushy and plus-2, plus-3 [about 35 degrees F],” U.S. combined head coach Bard Elden reported Wednesday. “But the longer weather forecast was for less better conditions into the weekend, less wind, maybe some snow, so … we’ll see.”

He said a 5-kilometer loop of machinemade snow had been built with a midloop cutoff for the combiners, so they compete over a 3.75km loop.

“With cross-country and combined here, there are a lot of people using the trail, a lot of people,” he said.

Elden said former sprint world champion Johnny Spillane injured his right shoulder Tuesday during jump training when his skis came off shortly after takeoff. He was flying back to Utah to be examined and to determine how much competition he would miss as he looked toward his third Olympics. His departure leaves three-time Olympian Todd Lodwick and two-time Olympian Bill Demong as the lone American nordic combined skiers in Kuusamo.

In jumping, coach Corby Fisher has three athletes – two-time Olympian Alan Alborn and 2002 Olympians Clint Jones and Tommy Schwall – in Kuusamo. Jones was second in the summer and fall phase of the Continental Cup schedule while Schwall showed improvement on the Continental Cup and Alborn is returning from springtime knee surgery and will slowly work his way into World Cup action, the coach said.

“This is an Olympic season and this is an important step toward qualifying for the Olympic team,” he said. “Clint’s shown how close he is and Tommy’s become more business-like in his approach, and has been jumping so well. After Kuusamo, we’ll see who stays on the World Cup and who joins ‘Stoney’ [coach Larry Stone] on the Continental Cup tour.”

- Courtesy USSA News Bureau

Manninen wins combined opener; Americans Lodwick, Demong top 15Lack of snow threatens nordic combined event in Finland

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