Goal set to stay healthy and collect at least two medals
OBERSTDORF, Germany (Feb. 16) – Two days of snowstorms, which have left upwards of two feet of snow, have boosted racing conditions as the 2005 World Nordic Ski Championships prepare to open. U.S. skiers look to stay healthy and collect at least two medals, U.S. Nordic Director Luke Bodensteiner said.
Competition begins Thursday with the women's 10K freestyle race and then the men's 15K free in this Allgau Valley resort village in Bavaria, which hosted the Championships in 1987. The Championships, which have attracted athletes from 51 nations, continue through Feb. 27.
“Our goal is to win two medals,” Bodensteiner said Tuesday night, “and we feel we have a realistic shot at getting them, especially in the nordic combined events. The team event is especially exciting. We see five nations in the fight for medals, and we've got a good chance there…and we've got five guys who can compete, which is a nice change form all the years we'd have three and hope we could come up with a fourth.”
In addition, he noted nordic combined veteran Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) stands third in the World Cup points while Johnny Spillane (also Steamboat) is the defending sprint world champion and also is in the top 10. “Todd and Johnny are two athletes who, on any given day, could be on the combined podium. That's very do-able,” Bodensteiner said.
At the same time, Bodensteiner said one major concern for the Americans is sickness; athletes at the World Alpine Ski Championships over the past two weeks in Bormio, Italy, were hit by sore throats, congestion and assorted other sicknesses. Other nations in Oberstdorf already are reporting sickness and he said cross country skiers Kris Freeman (Andover, NH), Carl Swenson (Park City, UT) and Rebecca Dussault (Gunnison, CO) were dealing with illness.
“They want to ski, of course, but we want Kris, Carl and Rebecca fully healthy before they start so they can race at their best.”
Other U.S. starters Thursday are expected to be: Men – Andrew Johnson (Greensboro, VT), James Southam (Anchorage, AK) and Lars Flora (also Anchorage); Women – Kikkan Randall (also Anchorage) and Sarah Konrad (Laramie, WY). Coincidentally, Randall won a fun sprint race involving other top World Cup racers Tuesday night in Oberstdorf while Andy Newell (Shaftsbury, VT) led the men's qualifying and reached the semifinals.
Injury knocked two-time Olympian Alan Alborn (also Anchorage) out of the Championships but Bodensteiner said Clint Jones (Steamboat Springs, CO) was looking for his first top-15 of the season. “Clint's comfortable with the hills here,” he said, “and likes what are expected to be stable conditions.”
The first nordic combined race will be Friday's individual (the traditional format, two rounds of jumping and a 15K race) with the first jumping set for Saturday with the normal hill (HS100) event.