US Nordic combined skiers 6th in Norway
No medals for the Steamboat-led squad at Worlds
March 5, 2011
FIS Nordic World Ski Championships
Large hill team event
■ Gold: Austria, (Bernhard Gruber, David Kreiner, Felix Gottwald, Mario Stetcher), 47:12.3
■ Silver: Germany, (Johannes Rydzek, Bjoern Kircheisen, Eric Frenzel, Tino Edelmann), +0.1
■ Bronze: Norway, (Mikko Korslien, Haavard Klemetsen, Jan Schmid, Magnus Moan), +40.6
■ 6. USA (Bryan Fletcher, Billy Demong, Johnny Spillane, Todd Lodwick), +1:44.0
The U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team couldn't overcome a 1 minute, 4 second deficit after the jumping portion of Friday's final World Championships event in Norway, finishing sixth as a team and ending the weeklong competition without any team or individual medals.
Austria and Germany battled to a photo finish in Friday's large hill team event, with Austria taking gold and Germany silver. Norway took bronze.
The Americans were in position to grab a podium spot after finishing fifth in the jumping round. Steamboat's Bryan Fletcher jumped 125 meters in the opening round. Johnny Spillane, also of Steamboat, jumped 124 meters in the second round; Billy Demong jumped 124 meters in the third round; and Steamboat's Todd Lodwick jumped 122.5 meters in the final round.
"We were pretty happy with the way we jumped; however, we weren't as close as I thought we were going to be after the jumping," U.S. head coach Dave Jarrett said in a news release. "We were a little too far out. The margin between getting a medal and not getting a medal is not very much, and we got shut out this time."
Demong was first out for the U.S. in the 10-kilometer cross-country ski relay. He cut about 20 seconds off the gap by the time he handed off to Fletcher, who cut another 10 seconds off the gap. When he handed off to Spillane, the Americans were 41 seconds behind Austria and 34 seconds from the bronze medal position.
Spillane was unable to gain any ground and handed off to Lodwick with a deficit of more than a minute. There was little chance for Lodwick on the anchor leg, with the leaders well in command and too much time to make up. The U.S. finished 1 minute, 44 seconds behind the gold-medal winning Austrians.
During the final 5 kilometers, Austria's Mario Stecher and Germany's Tino Edelmann played a cat-and-mouse game to the finish. Edelmann led Stecher into the final short stadium hill, stalling the pace before bursting ahead.
Stecher, who initially struggled to maintain contact, picked up a few seconds of rest tucking in behind Edelmann coming over the short drop from a bridge into the final hundred meters. With a massive burst of energy, Stecher attacked Edelmann's left. The two sprinted to the line, shoving boots across the beam, with Austria getting the nod after a two-minute review of the photo finish.
It was a disappointing week for the Americans, who had established themselves as an elite group during the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia. In the Olympics, they won a silver medal as a team, and Spillane picked up two individual silver medals while Demong captured an individual gold.
The Americans now head to Lahti, Finland, for the final event of the World Cup tour.
The U.S. Ski Team contributed to this report.