Excited is the word U.S. Nordic combined coach Dave Jarrett used Monday to describe his team's outlook for Thursday's team event at the 2009 Nordic World Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic.
"We are going to need our top guys to ski like our top guys," Jarrett says. "If that happens, I think we will have a pretty good shot at another medal."
The U.S. team's top guys have been producing in the town of Liberec since the 2009 Nordic World Championships opened last week. Steamboat Springs' Todd Lodwick already has collected two golds - one in the mass start event and another in the individual Gundersen event on the normal hill. Teammate Bill Demong earned the bronze in the individual event, as well.
Jarrett expects Lodwick and Demong to be part of the four-man rotation for the team event. So should Steamboat Springs skier Johnny Spillane, who finished 16th in the individual event.
"Johnny's really close," Jarrett said. "He's closer than the results show, and if he jumps the way he's been jumping in training, he will be right there with the top guys. The big hill is a little different than the one we've been on for the first two events. Johnny has always liked the bigger jump hills."
Jarrett said Monday that he had not decided which of the remaining skiers on his team would fill the final position on the four-man team event. Each jumper will get one jump on the larger hill in Liberec and will ski a 5-kilometer leg of the relay race.
Jarrett said he had hoped to use Monday's official training, along with training on Tuesday and today, to determine that position. But high winds in Liberec forced Monday's training to be canceled, leaving only two official training sessions for Bryan Fletcher, Eric Camerota and Brett Camerota to make an impression on the coaching staff and earn the final spot. The team jumped Tuesday, but the results were tight among the three skiers battling for the final spot.
"Those guys have been close all season," Jarrett said. "I can't say who will be skiing right now - they all deserve a chance to earn it. It's going to be a tough decision. One guy is going to be happy, but it's going to be a hard pill to swallow for the guys who are left out."
Morse third in Voss
Michael Morse, who trained with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, made the first World Cup podium of his career Friday. Morse finished third in a moguls competition in Voss, Norway. Canadian Alexandre Bilodeau won the event. Finland's Taipo Luusua was second.
"It finally happened today," Morse said Friday in a U.S. Ski Team release. "I stuck to my original plan, I finally had the speed I was looking for. I just tried to go for it."
His coach, Scott Rawles, said in the same release that Morse has been picking it up every week, pushing the speed and that the finish has been a long time coming.
Morse qualified sixth and moved up three spots after throwing a D-spin (back flip with crossed skis) and skiing a fast run.
Freestyle worlds team named
Five skiers with ties to Steamboat Springs have been named to the 2009 FIS World Championship team that will compete in Inawashiro, Japan, from March 2 to 8.
Aerialist Ryan St. Onge and Jana Lindsey will join mogul skiers Michael Morse, Eliza Outtrim and Emiko Torito at the championships.
"I didn't coach Ryan, but I coached everybody else in that group," said Erik Skinner, the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club's freestyle program director. "It's wonderful that the club has so many skiers who made that team. We take a lot of pride in that, and I'm stoked for all of them."
This year's Freestyle World Championships will include aerials, single moguls, dual moguls, skiercross and skier halfpipe.
Other skiers named to the 17-person team include 10 Olympians. Other team members include Jeret Peterson, Shannon Bahrke, Hannah Kearney, Michelle Roark, Casey Puckett, Daron Rahlves.