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Archive for December, 2013

Lodwick Locks Up Olympic Spot at U.S. NoCo Trials

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

Todd Lodwick is a performer. The five-time U.S. Olympian successfully earned a ticket to his sixth Games with a victory on Saturday at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Park City, Utah.

According to USSA, the 37-year-old Lodwick is the first American to make a sixth Olympic team. His first Olympics were nearly 20 years ago at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

“It’s a daunting and humbling statement, but I don’t think there was any doubt in my mind, even before this competition, that I was going to make my sixth team as long as I trained hard and competed well,” Lodwick said in a press release.

The U.S. Nordic Combined veteran bested teammate Billy Demong in the jump Saturday morning, and went on to hold his 36-second lead to the finish in the afternoon 10 k at Utah Olympic Park.

“I haven’t been this nervous for a competition for a really long time,” Lodwick said. “I think that is something that I’ve been missing a little on the World Cup tour. Today there was a lot on the line. And to be in front of friends, family and supportive people who have traveled so far to cheer us on as nordic combined skiers and as the legacy of the sport is overwhelming.”

Bryan Fletcher took second, 17.3 seconds after Lodwick, and Demong placed third. Aside from Lodwick, the rest of the U.S. Olympic team will be selected based on World Cup results and named Jan. 22.

NBC will recap Saturday’s nordic-combined trials and live stream the ski-jumping trials on Sunday from 1:30 to 3 p.m. EST.

Results

U.S. Nordic Combined Olympic Trials on Saturday

Friday, December 27th, 2013
Snow is set on the 2.5k cross country track while the jumps stand ready in the background for this weekend's Olympic Trials for Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined at the Utah Olympic Park. (U.S. Ski Team - Tom Kelly)

Snow is set on the 2.5k cross country track while the jumps stand ready in the background for this weekend’s Olympic Trials for Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined at the Utah Olympic Park. (Photo: US Ski Team/Tom Kelly)

Several Americans will be contending for a guaranteed Olympic spot on Saturday at the U.S. Nordic Combined Olympic trials in Park City, Utah. The HS-100 jumping competition starts Saturday at 10:15 MST and the two-lap 10 k race will take place at 2 p.m.

After Saturday’s NoCo events, men’s and women’s ski jumping will hold their own Olympic trials on Sunday with NBC live streaming the events (and recapping the nordic-combined trials) from 1:30-3 p.m. EST.

Bryan Fletcher in the competition jump at the Ramsau World Cup last weekend.

Bryan Fletcher (U.S. Nordic Combined) jumping at the Ramsau World Cup last weekend.

 

SCHEDULE (via US Ski Team)

All events at Utah Olympic Park

Saturday, Dec. 28 – 2014 U.S. Olympic Trials – Nordic Combined

  • Nordic Combined Trial Jump – 9:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. MST
  • Nordic Combined Competition Jump – 10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. MST
  • Nordic Combined 10k (4×2.5k) – 2:00 p.m. – 2:35 p.m. MST
  • Nordic Combined Awards Ceremony – 2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. MST

Sunday, Dec. 29 – 2014 U.S. Olympic Trials – Ski Jumping

  • Men’s and Women’s Trial Jump – 11:10 a.m. – 11:38 a.m. MST
  • Men’s and Women’s Competition Jump 1 – 11:50 a.m. – 12:05 p.m. MST
  • Men’s and Women’s Competition Jump 2 – 12:36 p.m. – 12:52 p.m. MST
  • Men’s and Women’s Awards Ceremony – 1:00 p.m. – 1:10 p.m. MST

‘Bittersweet’ Weekend for Bryan Fletcher at Schonach World Cup (Updated)

Sunday, December 22nd, 2013

A weekend of World Cup competition in Schonach, Germany, yielded good results for American Bryan Fletcher, especially on Sunday as he rose from 26th to ninth in the individual normal hill/10 k.

Saturday’s individual competition was dominated by Norwegians, with Magnus Moan taking first place in 24:58.5 and Haavard Klemetsen taking second 4.3 second later. On Sunday, France’s Jason Lamy Chappuis narrowly won in 23:47.1 and Germany’s Johannes Rydzek was just 0.7 seconds behind in second. Japan’s Akito Watabe showed remarkable consistency, getting third place both days, each time less than 1 second behind second place.

On Saturday, Fletcher was the lone American to qualify for the competition. He ranked 31st in the jump, then went on to ski up to 18th, 1:07.8 out of first, which he described as “bittersweet” after crashing in the race. On Sunday, he jumped to 26th in the provisional round which ended up being used to seed the cross-country race (after the competition jump was canceled).

“Todays conditions were tough,” Fletcher explained in an email. “Really strong winds, rain, warm weather all accounted for the cancellation of the jumping.”

With a “decent jump” putting him in fighting position, he was OK with the call.

“I was just excited to race,” he added. “I was really striving for a top 10 today.”

Fletcher started 58 seconds behind Klemetsen, who led after the jump, and went on to ski the third-fastest 10 k for ninth overall, 14.1 seconds behind Lamy Chappuis.

“I was in the hunt until the last hill and just couldn’t jockey for position in time,” Fletcher wrote. “I had some strategy going into the race to work with some other guys, however after the first lap the plan had not worked out. I was out alone and unfortunately had to spend a lot of energy on my own to catch the front group. But once I made contact I did my best to recover and try and gain spots on the hill, which was about the only place wide enough to ski two wide.”

Rounding out U.S. Nordic Combined’s results on Sunday were Taylor Fletcher in 31st place (+1:38.8), Todd Lodwick in 44th (+2:22), and Brett Denney in 51st (+2:59.7).
In Saturday’s race, Bryan wrote that he got tangled up with another skier and fell, yet skied the 11th-fastest time.
“I got up and still managed to get back to 14th place but was out printed by the group I was leading at the line landing me in 18th,” he wrote. “I also found out shortly after the race I had skied the entire fourth lap on a broken ski and I am sure that accounted for a bit of the fatigue. So despite the unfortunate luck I would say it went well for as bad as it went. … I am happy about this weekend, mostly happy to end on a top 10 just in time to head home for the holidays and Gold Cup on the 28th.”

Results: Saturday | Sunday

Demong’s Final Continental Cup Win Gives U.S. Fifth World Cup Spot

Friday, December 20th, 2013

On Thursday, the final day of the Continental Cup competition in Park City, Utah, U.S. Nordic Combined’s Billy Demong rose the the challenge, beating Austria’s Tomaz Druml to give his team a fifth World Cup spot for the rest of the 2013/2014 season.

Demong started off with the winning jump of 95.5 meters at Utah Olympic Park, giving him a 40-second head start in the 10 k race at Soldier Hollow. He held off Druml, who started 52 seconds behind, by 23 seconds in 23:55.8. Druml placed second, followed by France’s Hugo Buffard in third (+41.6).

Demong started the week off with a victory in Tuesday’s Continental Cup opener in Soldier Hollow. He was second on Wednesday and secured a final victory on Thursday to enable his team to bring U.S. Nordic Combined’s World Cup quota from four to five.

“It’s good to have practice being out front and experience what that feels like to be the hunted person instead of hunting other people down,” Demong said in a USSA press release.

Rounding out the American finishes, Adam Loomis placed 20th, Nick Hendrickson was 22nd, Michael Ward 25th, Ben Berend 31st, Alek Gantick 34th, Erik Lynch 36th, and Nicholas Madden 45th.

“Another great day for Team USA and especially Bill,” said national-team coach Greg Poirier. “He did exactly what we needed him to do this week—earned us that fifth and crucial spot going into the next period of the World Cup. Bill did what Bill came home to do. The others, another good day, just not quite finding great form on the ski jump, but still looking really sharp on the cross country. So, I’m also excited for our B Team group behind Bill.”

Results

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Comeback Kid: Fletcher Goes from 30th to Seventh, Demong Notches Ninth for U.S.

Sunday, December 15th, 2013

Eric Frenzel of Germany jumped third and raced to first on Sunday for his third World Cup win this season, taking the 10 k individual Gundersen title by 5.3 seconds in 21:52.4. But he only started 8 seconds behind the leader.

Not taking anything away from Frenzel, the current World Cup overall leader, or Norway’s Haavard Klemetsen, who led the jump then finished second. But there were guys like Norwegian Mikko Kokslein that rose from the depths — 32nd in the jump to third overall — that really impressed in Sunday in Ramsau am Dachstein, Austria.

Kokslein posted the fastest 10 k in 20:45.0 to finish just 0.3 seconds out of second. Norway’s Magnus Krog placed fourth (+6.3) after starting 13th, Japan’s Akito Watabe jumped to eighth and finish fifth (+7.1), and Germany’s Fabian Riessle started 29th to place sixth (+7.6) with the third-fastest time.

Then there was Bryan Fletcher, who teamed up with Todd Lodwick on Saturday to bring the U.S. from 14th to a historic fourth in the team sprint. Fletcher’s jump ranked 30th out of 47 on Sunday, and the 27-year-old Colorado native skied up to seventh with the second-fastest time, 8.3 seconds behind Kokslein. After starting a minute and 9 seconds behind Klemetsen, Fletcher ended up just 9.9 seconds behind Frenzel as the winner and 4.3 seconds off the podium.

“Jumping was not my strongest today but I was in the hunt and thats the only thing that matters,” Fletcher wrote in an email. “I know I can improve and I am looking forward to more chances and opportunities to improve next week in [Schonach, Germany].
“I was surprised to see 2nd fastest time on the results sheet,” he added. “I was just focused on skiing my race and trying not to get caught up in any of the pack scrambles.”

In his first race of the weekend, Billy Demong posted the 16th-best jump and eighth-fastest time to tally ninth (+10.6), his best individual result of the season. He was four-tenths of a second behind Austria’s Lukas Klapfer in eighth.

“I’ve been really focused on jumping this summer and really laid a solid foundation and built into good form which unfortunately did not translate right away in competition,” Demong wrote in an email. “But I am starting to feel really good on the hill now and also feel room for improvement.

“I thought I could be maybe make the podium and I really felt that I skied a well paced and executed race but when 15 guys hit the final climb together I chose a bad line and got caught up at one pony coming to a stop,” he explained. “I’m happy though I had good energy throughout the race and pushed over the top of all the climbs really hard.”

Lodwick placed 33rd (+1:22.8) after starting 40th and skiing the 26th-fastest time.

“All in all I think that we are showing that we are coming into form and that 3 top tens and near podiums with pretty average performance gives us confidence of good things to come!” Demong wrote.

Results

Bryan Fletcher, Lodwick Rally from 14th to Fourth in Ramsau Team Sprint

Saturday, December 14th, 2013

Starting 14th of 20 teams in Saturday’s World Cup team sprint, US Nordic Combined’s Bryan Fletcher and Todd Lodwick put down ferocious 2 x 7.5 k lap times to finish fourth, just over a second off the podium in Ramsau, Austria.

Norway’s first team of Mikko Kokslein and Jørgen Graabak won the event in 33:59.3, just 8.2 seconds ahead of Norway II’s Haavard Klemetsen and Magnus Krog in second. Italy took third with Samuel Costa and Alessandro Pittin, 8.8 seconds behind the winners and 1.2 ahead of Fletcher and Lodwick, who combined for the fastest cross-country time.

The second U.S. team, Brett Denney and Taylor Fletcher placed 15th.

Results

Frenzel Takes World Cup Lead with Lillehammer Win; U.S. Notches 10th and 11th (Updated)

Sunday, December 8th, 2013

Second heading into the Sunday’s 10-kilometer race on the final day of the World Cup in Lillehammer, Norway, Germany’s Eric Frenzel took control and won in 29:27.7, beating his competition by nearly a minute on a snowy afternoon.

Norway’s Magnus Krog placed second, 52 seconds back, and Akito Watabe reached the podium for the second-straight day in third (+52.6).

“It was a race how you want it; I am pleased that I have the yellow jersey again,” Frenzel told Sueddeutsche.de, according to a translation. “I had to give it a day, but [I] fought back.”

Coming off his first World Cup win this season at last weekend’s opener in Kuusamo, Finland, Frenzel placed 10th in Lillehammer on Saturday. Sunday’s win, the 11th of his career, put him back on top of the overall World Cup rankings.

Skiing the fifth-fastest 10 k behind Frenzel, whose time ranked fourth, Bryan Fletcher led the U.S. in 10th — an improvement from finishing 16th on Saturday. He finished 1:44.3 minutes behind Frenzel after starting 26th.

“The race went about as well as I could have asked for,” Fletcher wrote in an email. “Looking at the start list I was thinking to myself if I have a good race, I could finish top 10 realistically I was thinking I would be happy with just a good race no matter what place. … This weekend I was able to make solid steps to get back on track to where I need to be.  I was really happy to be back in the game and I am excited for the weeks to come!”

Fletcher’s teammate Todd Lodwick was 7.9 seconds behind in 11th after posting the 16th-best jump and skiing the 13th-fastest time. For Lodwick, it was his best World Cup result in nearly three years.

Billy Demong suffered his second disqualification in two weekends of racing. “… forgot my bib. 2x too many for one career. I think @fisnc should keep a couple spares at the top and just fine instead,” Demong tweeted.

Results

Lamy Chappuis Holds on for Lillehammer Win; Bryan Fletcher Leads U.S. in 16th

Saturday, December 7th, 2013
Saturday's winner, Jason Lamy Chappuis of France (c) on the podium with Japan's Akito Watabe (l) in second and Norway's Mikko Kokslien in third. (Photo: FIS Nordic Combined/Twitter)

Saturday’s winner, Jason Lamy Chappuis of France (c) on the podium with Japan’s Akito Watabe (l) in second and Norway’s Mikko Kokslien in third. (Photo: FIS Nordic Combined/Twitter)

Second in the jump at Saturday’s World Cup competition in Lillehammer, Norway, Jason Lamy Chappuis of France kept Japan’s Akito Watabe at bay in the 10 k, beating him by 13.5 seconds for his first win of the season in 26:45.2. Lamy Chappuis started the race behind teammate Francois Braud, first in the jump and ultimately sixth.

“I started with a really good jump; it’s always easier to start in front and to give your own pace,”  Lamy Chappuis told Eurosport. “We had a good pace with my teammate Francois Braud. It was really nice to be together at the front of the race. … I was a little bit afraid of the Norwegians at the end, but I stayed in front which was great. Akito started really fast, too.”

Watabe had the third-best jump and finished second. Mikko Kokslien of Norway placed third (+18.3) with the fastest 10 k time, coming back from 28th in the jump.

The Lillehammer World Cup nordic-combined venue early Saturday morning. (Photo: Billy Demong/Twitter)

The Lillehammer World Cup nordic-combined venue early Saturday morning. (Photo: Billy Demong/Twitter)

After failing to qualify for the individual competition last weekend in Kuusamo, Finland, the U.S. men’s team had two in the top 20. Bryan Fletcher placed 16th (36th in the jump, 11th in cross-country), and Billy Demong finished 19th (45th in the jump, ninth-fastest time).

In an email, Fletcher described challenging jumping conditions with high and variable winds, especially earlier in the round, after the provisional round was canceled.

“We were very lucky to be able to get a comp off and have a race,” he added. “The conditions on the XC course are awesome. I really like the new course it’s very challenging and has a fun rhythm to it.”

Saturday’s competition marked Fletcher’s second time jumping in new boots, so he focused on having “a good feeling and not trying to hard.”

His jump put him in a position where he needed to conserve initially in the 10 k to have some kick at the end.  “However once I got started the plan went out the window and I just hammered,” Fletcher wrote. “I payed for it at the end but over all I was very happy with my result!”

Demong wrote in an email that he had some good jumps in training throughout the week, giving him confidence for Saturday’s competition.

“I was able to go for it and I think today was something to build on!” he wrote, referring to his “average jump and average race.”

“I’m excited going forward,” Demong added.

Taylor Fletcher placed 22nd (53rd in the jump, eighth in cross-country), and Todd Lodwick was 34th (37th jump, 36th cross-country).

“Last weekend we had a tough go of a lot of things and we had some kinks to work out,” Bryan Fletcher explained. “We really used our days of training to work those kinks out and now I feel we are back on track. We are now just excited for more opportunities to keep climbing the results ladder.”

“Kuusamo has been tough for a lot of people but rarely a season definer,” Demong wrote. “We had a great week of training on the hills here and got our confidence back.”

Results

Demong Elaborates on Opening World Cup Weekend

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

After the U.S. team came back from jumping to 12th in Sunday’s team event and placing seventh overall (with Taylor Fletcher posting the fastest anchor leg), Billy Demong explained that their showing at the first World Cup of the season in Kuusamo, Finland, didn’t go exactly as planned. None of the U.S. team jumped well enough to make it into Saturday’s individual competition.

“This weekend was a bit lackluster for sure,”  Demong wrote in an email. “Jumping seemed to elude us in Kuusamo, which honestly has happened more often than not but does not seem to have much bearing on the rest of the season. The team has done good training and we are certainly looking forward to Lillehammer.”

Demong was disqualified for an equipment violation in Saturday’s provisional round, which he explained had to do with the girth of his jumping suit — in this case, his thigh.

“It seems that between the time we made (yes we make our own suits) the suit and the first comp I lost about 2cm of girth around my upper thigh and so the suit was deemed too big by the FIS,” Demong wrote. “We travel with a sewing machine for such reasons and so I was able to fix it and get it ready for Sundays team competition”

More on the Nordic Combined World Cup opener in Kuusamo, Finland

Norway Wins NoCo Team Event in Kuusamo, Taylor Fletcher Lifts U.S. to Seventh

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Norway’s success in Kuusamo was furthered with a victory in the Nordic Combined relay.  After an excellent morning of ski jumping, the team skated well in the afternoon, and won with a comfortable margin of 30 seconds over their closest rival Germany.

Magnus Krog led the Norwegians in jumping, flying 145 meters, a new personal best.  His teammates, Grabbak, Kokslien, and Klemetsen, had big jumps as well, landing only 15 to 17 meters behind Krog’s jump, the biggest of the day.

Only Japan’s Yoshito Watabe could come close to matching Krog’s performance, landing just a half meter behind the Norwegians benchmark jump.

The Russian team continued their run of results in Kuusamo, with excellent jumping by all teammates to finishing third behind Norway and Japan in the jumping round.

The American’s did not have a good day on the jump, finishing in 12th, with a start time on the skiing leg 4:22 behind Norway.

Norway’s Haavard Klemetsen led the 5k cross country leg of the relay.  He was chased 28 seconds later by Japan’s Taihei Kato, followed 20 seconds later by Russian Evgeniy Klimov.

Norway’s biggest threat to their race however came in the form of Germany’s first leg skier Bjoern Kircheisen, who started 48 seconds after Klemetsen and skied the fastest 5k leg of the day in 12:15.

Kircheisen nearly surpassed Klemetsen, and the two handed off nearly simultaneously. Manuel Faisst (GER) battled it out with Krog (NOR) to see who would take the lead, but late in race Krog was able to ski away from a tired Faisst to give his teammate Kosklien a 10 second advantage over Germany at the handoff.  Johannes Rydzek (GER) could not match Kosklien over the course and lost yet another 10 seconds to Norway.

Joergen Graaback (NOR), skiing the anchor leg, had ample time at the end of his race to grab a Norwegian flag and savor the victory as he skied into the stadium.

Mikko Kosklien told FIS after his important third leg, “It was a really hard 5k, a tough one, so I was happy that Krog could give me the gap and then I started to try and increase the gap a little bit.  For sure it was a nice feeling to see Joergen come through the finish.”

The Nordic Combined World Cup continues next weekend in Lillehammer.

— Pasha Kahn

Also: (from U.S. Ski Team press release)

U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team’s Taylor Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) posted the fastest time in his cross country anchor leg and moved up the pack to give the USA seventh in the 4x5k team event at the nordic combined World Cup season opener.

The Team started the relay in 12th after the team HS142 jumping portion earlier on Sunday.

The Norwegian team jumped into first place and held its lead throughout the relay.

The U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team, Taylor Fletcher, Bryan Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO), Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY), is starting the season after winning the first ever American medal in the team event at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy, last February.

The four U.S. athletes failed to qualify in the top 50 for the individual event on Saturday and did not compete. (Note: Demong was disqualified for equipment in the provisional round: ICR 4.2.2.2. German Erik Frenzel won the LH HS142/10 k competition by jumping to fourth and posting the ninth-fastest race time. He beat Norwegians Grabaak and Krog in second and third, by 3.5 and 6.9 seconds, respectively.)

Next the Team travels to Lillehammer, Norway for the nordic combined FIS World Cup on Dec. 7-8.

Results: Saturday’s individual LH/10 k Sunday’s team event