Steamboat Springs Eight U.S. athletes, including veteran Todd Lodwick, of Steamboat Springs, qualified to compete in this weekend's FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup events in Park City and Soldier Hollow, Utah, at trials in Steamboat. The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club played a key role in producing two days of outstanding qualifying events despite low early season snow.
"The crew in Steamboat did a great job on short notice to enable us to run these qualifiers," said U.S. Nordic Combined Head Coach Dave Jarrett. "They pulled them off without a hitch."
The Continental Cup events are scheduled for Saturday and Sunday. Changes in FIS rules during the summer cut available U.S. quota slots from 16 to eight, necessitating the qualifiers. There were 15 top U.S. athletes vying for the eight spots. The Continental Cup, formerly known as World Cup B, is an important international series for Nordic combined athletes seeking to qualify for the World Cup. Lodwick is returning after a two-year absence and won both qualifiers but was challenged by Steamboat's Bryan Fletcher, who edged Lodwick in the jumping portion of the second qualifier. Alex Miller, also of Steamboat, was a strong qualifier, as well.
Jarrett especially was pleased with the three juniors who qualified, including Steamboat's Brett Denney and Taylor Fletcher, and Nick Hendrickson, of Park City. All three are a part of a new junior residence program the USSA has developed in Steamboat Springs under Coach Martin Bayer.
Additional qualifiers for this weekend's event include Brett Camerota, of Park City, Willy Graves, of Putney, Vt., and Nick Hendrickson, of Park City.
The Continental Cup features a jumping round at 10 a.m. Saturday and Sunday at the Utah Olympic Park. The cross-country finale is at 2 p.m. each day at Soldier Hollow. A field of 11 nations is expected. The U.S. Team then heads to the Olympic venue in Whistler, B.C. for a pair of competitions next week.