Steamboat Springs The U.S. Nordic combined team left for Norway two weeks ago hoping to train a few days with the always-strong Norwegians and see how well the team's summer training program has worked.
On Tuesday, U.S. Nordic combined coach Dave Jarrett said he feels good with where the team stands heading into the winter.
"We were encouraged by the competitions," Jarrett said. "They were kind of like scrimmages. If we had not been competitive, we would have known we still had a lot of work to do. As it is, we can still work to improve, but I feel confident with where we are at right now."
Veteran and four-time Olympian Todd Lodwick looked strong last weekend and won the Lillehammer SuperSprint Title on Saturday. The next day, American Bill Demong finished second in a 10-kilometer individual Gundersen event after getting edged at the finish line by Norway's Mikko Kokslien.
The finish came down to a four-way sprint between Kokslien, Demong, Magnus Moan and Jan Schmid. Moan was third and Schmid placed fourth.
Jarrett said Lodwick finished sixth in the event despite a disappointing day on the jump hill. Brett Camerota was 10th, Carl Van Loan was 12th and Bryan Fletcher placed 14th in the senior field.
The Americans also had a strong showing in the junior division, with Taylor Fletcher placing third in a field filled with some of the world's most promising juniors.
Junior World Champion Ole-Christian Wendel, of Norway, topped the junior field and was followed by teammate Truls Johansen.
Taylor Fletcher was ninth after the jumping but posted the fastest cross-country time to come within six seconds of second place.
Other top American finishes included Nick Hendrickson in sixth, Brett Denney in eighth and Michael Ward in 12th. Adam Loomis was 13th, and Cliff Field was 14th.
"This was a good camp for us," Jarrett said. "All of our athletes got a chance to see where they stand and got an idea of what they need to do to improve."
Jarrett said the team will return to Park City, Utah, for a few weeks before heading to Lake Placid, N.Y., for this year's U.S. National Championships in October.
"We are planning to make a few more jumps this week and then head for home," Jarrett said. "This camp has been great for Todd and Bill, but I also liked what I saw from some of the younger guys."
- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org