Glueck, Gerhart pick up medals in Germany

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— Top performances by Alex Glueck and Nathan Gerhart in Germany this week have made the pair the most recent poster boys for Steamboat's long-standing Nordic combined tradition.

On Wednesday, the two local skiers stayed at the top of the pack at the World Junior Championships in Schonach, Germany. Glueck captured the silver and his teammate Gerhart earned the bronze medal.

"This is another notch in the tradition of producing top Nordic combined athletes here in Steamboat Springs," U.S. Nordic combined coach Tom Steitz said. "It just seems to keep raining."

Germany's Bjoern Kircheisen, who is a top-10 competitor on the World Cup, ran away with the two-jump, 10-kilometer event on Tuesday. The German led the jumping and posted the fastest time in the cross country race en route to winning the event by a 2-minute, 14-second margin.

Glueck, who is a member of the Americans' emerging elite roster, was 10th after the jumping, but posted the second fastest cross country result to move into second behind Kircheisen.

"I think Alex (Glueck) was a little bit of a surprise," local coach Gary Crawford said. "He's been jumping well, but it's exciting that he posted the second fastest cross country time."

He was followed closely by Gerhart, who was sixth after the jumping and 2:22 behind the winner at the finish. Gerhart is on the 2001-2002 Nordic Combined Team roster and was in the running to make this year's Olympic team. Crawford said this was a huge finish for Gerhart, who is still recovering from a nasty fall in a competition in Europe less than a month ago that left him with a head injury. Since then, Gerhart has been jumping but hasn't been cross country racing.

Glueck's finish was the second best in U.S. history and Gerhart's was the third. Todd Lodwick's gold medal showing in 1996 is still the best individual finish for an American athlete.

The Americans also won a team event (Johnny Spillane, Carl Van Loan, Jed Hinkley and Bill Demong) in Saalfelden, Austria, in 1999. The same team also placed second in Strbske Pleso, Slovakia.

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