On the 'Net
- Visit the U.S. Nordic Combined Team's homepage and blog at www.usnoco.org/.
- Visit the U.S. Ski Team's Nordic page at www.usskiteam.com/jumping.
Steamboat Springs It's been eight long months of training for the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team.
But on Saturday, the jumps and the results will count as the World Cup tour returns for another season.
Steamboat's Johnny Spillane and Alex Glueck will join Bill Demong and Eric Camerota in representing the American team at the first World Cup Nordic combined event of the season in Kuusamo, Finland.
"The boys are doing well, and everyone is healthy," American coach Dave Jarrett wrote in an e-mail Wednesday. "It is always difficult to figure how everyone stacks up going into the first competition of the season, but the boys have done a tremendous job preparing this summer and are chomping at the bit to start competing."
Last year, Spillane and Demong landed on the podium in Kuusamo, which is located in the northern part of Finland, where the sun shines for about four hours each day during the winter. Spillane was second in a two-jump, 15-kilometer Gundersen event, and Demong placed third in a one-jump, 7.5-kilometer sprint event.
But this fall, the team struggled to get back on snow for early season training. The jumps in Park City, Utah, and Steamboat Springs were unable to open because of warm weather. This week is the first time the athletes have been able to get on snow.
"We have had a couple days of jump training so far," Jarrett said. "These were the first jumps on snow, so compared to the rest of the world, we're a little bit behind the eight ball. But we are here, and we are ready to go."
This year, the World Cup has adopted a new format aimed to simplify the sport and make it more marketable for television.
The format features one jump and a 10-kilometer cross-country race and will not change during the course of the season. There will be a mass-start event at the World Championships.
The athletes are scheduled to take a provisional jump on the HS142 hill Friday at the Ruka Ski Sport Center located near Kuusamo. That jump will not count in the final results unless conditions for Saturday's jumping event are unfavorable.
The first official jump will be held Saturday morning and will be followed by the 10-kilometer cross-country race in the afternoon.
A second one-jump, 10-kilometer race combination will be held Sunday afternoon as the World Cup season shifts into high gear.
The American team is scheduled to travel to events in Trondheim in Norway, Liberec in the Czech Republic and Ramsau in Austria before Christmas.
The rest of the U.S. Team will continue to train at home. Those athletes will compete on the Continental Cup (formally known as the World Cup B), which is scheduled to open in Park City on Dec. 13 and 14.
"We just plan to focus on the process and let the results take care of themselves," Jarrett said. "These guys are pros, and they know when they are on, that is good enough to stand on the top of the podium on any given day."