Tuesday, January 22, 2002
Steamboat Springs World Cup winners Todd Lodwick and Bill Demong of Steamboat Springs will top a list of talented American skiers who will compete in the 2002 Winter Olympic Games in Salt Lake this February.
"I've got three guys who have top-5 finishes this season," head Nordic Combined coach
Tom Steitz said. "You dream of having guys like this when you are going to the Olympic Games."
It was no surprise that Gold Cup winner Lodwick was named to the team in the top spot. Vermontville, N.Y., resident Demong and Breckenridge's Matt Dayton have also earned starting spots on the team.
Demong won a World Cup event last Sunday and Dayton has posted a pair of top-5 finishes on the World Cup tour this season.
"It wasn't a surprise," Demong said of being named to the team. "But it is definitely exciting it's an honor to make the team."
Other skiers making the seven-man roster will include Steamboat's Johnny Spillane, Carl Van Loan, Jed Hinkley and Kristoffer Erichsen.
While Spillane seems like the natural choice for the team's fourth starting position, Steitz claimed that he hasn't made a final decision yet.
"It's safe to say that three of the skiers have separated themselves from the pack," Steitz said. "But our fourth man is still up for grabs."
The American team is scheduled to begin a pre-Olympic training camp later this week and it could be key in determining which skier will step into the No. 4 spot. There is a possibility that more than four different skiers will take part in the three Olympic events.
"It's not like this is a tryout," Steitz said.
"But the camp will be a good chance for some of these skiers to show what they can do."
The Americans are expected to take four or five of the skiers to Park City. The remaining skiers will stay in Steamboat Springs where they can continue to train during the Games.
Steitz said if a skier isn't performing in Park City and another is jumping well in Steamboat, he might even make a switch during the Games.
"It's unlikely, but with Steamboat so close to the games it might be something we would consider," the coach said.
The team is scheduled to compete in an individual two-jump event Feb. 9 and 10.
There will also be a team event where all four athletes jump, and then each skier completes a
5-kilometer leg in a cross country race on Feb. 14 and 15.
The final event, a single-jump sprint event, will take place Feb. 21 and 22.