There were no podium finishes for the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team members Sunday at the season-ending King’s Cup in Norway, but the winter of 2009-10 will nonetheless be remembered as the greatest in this country’s Nordic history.
The World Cup tour ended with the season’s overall title winner Jason Lamy Chappuis of France finishing first in the final event, the King’s Cup in Holmenkollen, Norway. Billy Demong was the top U.S. finisher, taking 10th place in Sunday’s competition. Todd Lodwick was 12th, Johnny Spillane was 32nd, and Nick Hendrickson was 58th.
“It was kind of a rough day, but it’s all over now and we’re psyched to be done,” U.S. Nordic Combined head coach Dave Jarrett said in a news release. “These guys are all pretty tired. We were hoping to finish a little better, but it wasn’t meant to be today.”
Jarrett said Sunday’s weather conditions were extremely challenging, with alternating head and tailwinds affecting many of the jumpers.
Demong was the U.S.’s top jumper, placing 11th. That still put him 1:16 behind the leader going into the cross-country ski.
“The wind was changing quite a bit,” Jarrett said. “It was literally changing second by second. Even when there were good conditions in the corridor, it could change by the time they were at the end of the inrun.
“There are going to be days like that, and sometime you’re lucky and sometimes you’re not.”
But a disappointing final day of the World Cup did little to quash the excitement of a historic season for the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team. Having entered the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, British Columbia, never having medaled in the sport, the team brought home four medals — three silvers and a gold. Steamboat’s Spillane led the way with three silver medals — one each in the normal hill and large hill individual events, and one in the team event. Demong, a native of Vermontville, N.Y., but an adopted son of Steamboat, won gold in the large hill individual event. Lodwick, a five-time Olympian and long the gold standard in U.S. Nordic combined competition, finally got his medal, too, a silver in the team event. He finished fourth in the normal hill individual event, just missing the bronze.
“We were focused on the Olympics, and we went there and did what we needed to do,” Jarrett said.
A homecoming celebration for the Nordic combined athletes is planned for April 2 in downtown Steamboat. The event is expected to be similar to the Olympic Send-off held downtown in early February. Shortly after the homecoming event, the team will head off for an “Olympic Heavy Medal Tour” during which they’ll visit U.S. military personnel at bases around the globe.
But first, the U.S. men will attempt to break their personal ski jumping records while serving as forerunners at the World Ski Flying Championships in Planica, Slovenia.
The U.S. Ski Team contributed to this article.