In three Olympic competitions in Sochi, U.S. Nordic Combined didn’t end up with the fairy tale some had come to expect after the 2010 Vancouver Games. But with icons in Billy Demong and Todd Lodwick likely in their last Olympics, the story was more about the team closing one book and opening another.
From seven years of chemotherapy and a treatment-induced stroke, to being nominated to his first Olympic Team, Bryan Fletcher has overcome the odds to be one of the best athletes in the world. He will be joined by his brother, Taylor, in Sochi to partake in the quest to reach Olympic greatness and achieve their ultimate goal: an Olympic medal.
One last video from the final day of the Seefeld Triple on Sunday, with thoughts from U.S. Nordic Combined Head Coach Dave Jarrett, Bryan Fletcher, who notched a season-best fifth overall, and Billy Demong, who skied the third-fastest time to end up 11th in the first cumulative event of its kind in nordic combined.
A broken pole couldn’t keep Billy Demong from skiing to his best result of the season in eighth on the first day of the Nordic Combined World Cup Triple, and he talks all about it on camera after Friday’s individual jump and 5-kilometer prologue. Teammate Bryan Fletcher led the U.S. Nordic Combined team in sixth, also a season best.
Todd Lodwick crashed Friday during the provisional round at a World Cup event in Chaux Neuve, France, and injured his shoulder. Lodwick, who recently qualified to compete in his sixth Olympic Winter Games next month in Sochi, Russia, now heads back to Park City, Utah where he will get further evaluation and begin rehab on his shoulder with the goal of being ready to compete next month.
Todd Lodwick hadn’t felt nerves like he experienced last Saturday in a long time. The U.S. Nordic Combined veteran was about to see if he could make his sixth Olympic team at the U.S. Olympic trials on Dec. 28. He came out on top of the individual 10-kilometer competition in Park City and made history as the first American to qualify for six Winter Olympics. “If I touch one kid to help them achieve their dream, then I consider my career a success,” Lodwick says.
Extraordinary performances are becoming ordinary for the North American contingent this year as new stars emerge, historic results accumulate, and expectations continue to grow. FasterSkier was on site in Davos, Switzerland, where five USST members raced to the top 30 in Saturday’s distance races and six made the heats in Sunday’s sprints.
Bryan Fletcher and Todd Lodwick narrowly missed the podium in the 2 x 7.5-kilometer sprint in Ramsau, Austria, finishing fourth for U.S. Nordic Combined’s best result in a team sprint. “We train all summer and to have a result like [this] is humbling,” Lodwick says. “We’re really, really proud to put Norway in its place and to know that we are the fastest team out there, whether it’s by a second or ten seconds, it doesn’t matter.”
FasterSkier reported live at the IBU World Cup in Hochfilzen, Austria, and 2,000 kilometers north in Lillehammer, Norway, the U.S. cross-country and nordic-combined teams found success in Lillehammer. NorAm racing kicked off in British Columbia, and Bozeman SuperTour skiers braved the cold to get distance races in after Saturday’s sprints were canceled.
The Sochi Organizing Committee showed off, for the first time, the beautiful meals that will be up for grabs at the Olympics in February. Across the nordic sports, North Americans could medal in, we estimate, four events – and if you start talking a little crazy, maybe almost a dozen sets of the handcrafted hardware could come back across the Atlantic.