Nordic combined team prepares for World Championships on Friday in Italy

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— The U.S. Nordic combined team begins the 2013 World Championships on Friday in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

The six-member team includes Steamboat Springs skiers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher, Johnny Spillane and Todd Lodwick. Billy Demong, who trained in Steamboat, and Michael Ward round out the team.

It will be Ward’s first World Championships.

The site of the event is the same as when Spillane won America's first World Championship event 10 years ago.

The World Championships begin with a Gundersen normal hill event Friday.

There also will be a team HS 106 and 4x5-kilometer team event Saturday, a Gundersen large hill event Thursday and a team sprint event March 2.

For the most part, the U.S. team has struggled this year.

Demong, Lodwick and Spillane each battled injuries or ailments this season, and the Fletchers have been top contenders. Taylor Fletcher is 16th in World Cup standings, and Bryan Fletcher is 20th.

Still, the U.S. has to be considered a threat.

The team has struggled with jumping, but if any member can find the top 15 in individual events, he should have a chance.

For live results, click here.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com

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