Juniors fill void on Nordic combined World Cup

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With the top American Nordic combined skiers taking a break before the World Championships, the door was open for the next wave of American skiers to fill the void.

Steamboat Springs skier Alex Glueck did his best at a pair of World Cup events last weekend in Chaux-Neuve, France.

He didn't make it to the podium, but Glueck collected a career-best 32nd-place finish. He was followed by juniors Taylor Fletcher in 39th, Brett Denney in 44th and Nick Hendrickson in 45th on Saturday.

"I think all of the results were encouraging," said Todd Wilson, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's Nordic director. "I think we could have predicted the finishes. We knew that Taylor and Nick were skiing well, and this was a chance for them to gain some real experience."

Glueck also was the top American in Sunday's event as well with a 34th-place finish. Fletcher was 36th, Denney was 42nd and Hendrickson placed 43rd. It was the first time Fletcher, Denney and Hendrickson have competed in a World Cup competition, and it was the closest Glueck has come to earning World Cup points.

"He was close to scoring points, which is good for him as he has never scored," U.S. Nordic Combined coach Dave Jarrett said in a U.S. Ski Team release. "It is definitely encouraging and will give him some confidence. The three juniors also did a great job. While their jumping is not there yet, they are skiing well. This is even more encouraging for us."

Norway's Magnus Moan won Saturday's event, and Finland's Anssi Koivuranta won Sunday's competition.

The top American Nordic combined skiers, including Steamboat's Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane, decided to take a break from the World Cup to prepare for the World Championships, which take place Feb. 19 to March 1 in Liberec, Czech Republic.

Fletcher, Denney, and Hendrickson were in Europe to take part in the Junior World Championships, which are scheduled for Feb. 5 to 8 in Slovakia.

Fellow Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club Nordic combined skiers Colin Delaney and Cliff Field also are expected to compete at the Junior World Championships.

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