American finds podium | SteamboatToday.com

American finds podium

U.S. comes out strong at opening of World Cup B

— Before Saturday’s World Cup B event in Steamboat Springs, U.S. Ski Team coach Chris Gilbertson said he hoped one of his team’s skiers would make the podium and five would crack the top 30.

The Americans didn’t quite meet those expectations, but they certainly came close during the Mountain Resorts World Cup B Individual Gundersen event Saturday at Howelsen Hill.

Led by Brett Camerota’s second-place showing, the Americans finished with two skiers in the top 10 and four in the top 30.

Austria’s Lukas Klapfer won the event after holding 17th place overall following the jumping portion of the competition.

Depsite falling one skier short of Gilbertson’s expectations, the coach wasn’t complaining.

“I’m really excited about Brett’s second (place finish),” Gilbertson said. “I would have liked to have five guys, but this was a very good start. “

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The Americans were one of the strongest teams on the jump hill in Friday’s official training and Saturday’s trial round. But they looked a little tight when the jumps started counting.

“I think nerves got to some of the guys in the first official round,” Gilbertson said. “That’s to be expected, but now we know that we belong up there.”

Camerota not only proved he could ski with the best the World Cup B has to offer, he proved he could beat most of them.

“My goal was to be top five in every race,” the Park City, Utah, athlete said. “The top 10 guys will move up to World Cup A, so my goal is stay in the top five and to move up to World Cup A after this period.”

Camerota, who trained in Steamboat Springs for a couple of years when the Olympic jumps were being built in Park City, came out of the gates quickly.

He flew 119 meters in the first round and 117.5 meters in the second, earning the third starting position in the 15-kilometer cross-county race.

Austrian David Zauner was the top jumper. He nearly broke the hill record on his first attempt by soaring 126 meters with a slight uphill breeze. Then he jumped 124 meters on his second jump with almost no wind.

Norway’s Jan Christian Bjoern was second after the jumping portion with efforts of 122 and 121 meters.

“The air was a little funny in the first round and just dead in the second,” Gilbertson said. “But the good jumpers found a way to the bottom of the hill.”

But jumping is only half the equation in Nordic combined. Saturday morning’s jump results were used to seed the 15-kilometer cross-county race that determined the winner in the afternoon.

Zauner’s lead after the jumping quickly faded on the first lap. Camerota and Germany’s Tino Edelmann worked together to push the pace. But the biggest push came from further back, where Klapfer was busy erasing a 2 minute, 21 second deficit en route to the top podium spot.

“I didn’t think I could win,” Klapfer said. “I was thinking I could get into the top five or maybe a little better.”

Camerota also was determined to stay in the top five, and he stuck with Edelmann until the end.

“He (Zauner) normally goes out first and then usually gets caught,” Camerota said. “I thought the biggest threat was going to be Tino (Edelmann). Once he caught me I was just going to hang with him, which I did. Lukas was skiing fast, and we couldn’t stay with him. I just wanted to play it smart and stay on the podium.”

The race turned out to be a good one for the Americans. Brett’s brother, Eric Camerato, placed 10th, and Alex Glueck led a host of hometown favorites with his 26th-place finish. Bryan Fletcher was 27th, Alex Miller finished 37th, and Davis Miller finished 40th. Lake Placid’s Willy Graves, who posted one of the best trial jumps of the day, finished 39th.

The World Cup B will continue today with the Sprint event beginning at 9 a.m. with a trial jump. The only official jump is at 10 a.m., and the 7.5-kilometer cross-country race is scheduled for 1 p.m. at Howelsen Hill.