SCHONACH, Germany (Jan. 3) – The U.S. Ski Team moved up two spots after the jumping round to finish sixth in a four-man World Cup team event Saturday in Schonach. Germany dominated the event with the Norwegians taking second on final leg heroics by Magnus Moan. Austria was third.
“It wasn’t the best day for us today. We thought we were going to have an exciting race but the jumping kind of let us down,” Nordic Combined Coach Chris Gilbertson said.
The Team was eighth after the jump, led by Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) who jumped fourth in his group before moving into the cross country round.
“Todd jumped OK and we were happy with how he did there,” Gilbertson said.
In the cross country round Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO) kicked it off for the men as he moved the Team to sixth overall in his 5K heat.
“Johnny was really good in the cross country race. He wanted to stay relaxed in the first lap and then really put the hammer down in the second, and that’s what he did,” Gilbertson said. “He made time up and he did a very good job of pacing himself.”
Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) was up after Spillane and closed the gap midway through his 5K heat as he boosted the Team to third, just 42.6 behind Austria and eight seconds ahead of Norway.
“Billy also did a great job of pacing himself, which allowed us to make up a lot of time in his leg,” Gilbertson said. ” He closed the gap and was able to get us into that third pace spot.”
Following Demong, Brett Camerota (Park City, UT) fought to stay with Norway, Finland and France, but dropped to sixth.
“To start, Brett jumped really well for his first World Cup competition of the year,” Gilbertson said. “In the cross country he held on until his second lap, but he had gone too hard at first to be able to hang in there.”
Lodwick wrapped things up for the Team as he battled Norway’s Magnus Moan, who inevitably rocketed out of the four-skier pack to conquer Austria’s Mario Stecher and move into second. Lodwick maintained sixth-place for the Team to finish second in the race and sixth overall.
The Team competes again in Schonach in an individual Gundersen on Sunday.
“Tomorrow we have to go back to basics. We need to look at the video, see how we jumped and what it is that we can improve on,” Gilbertson said. “We want to get a guy into the top 10 of the jumping round because when we do that, that’s when we get our podiums.”
Four man team events are a rarity on the World Cup. And, in recent years, the U.S. had not fielded a team outside of Olympics and World Championships. With the addition of Lodwick to the circuit, the U.S. anticipates being able to challenge for a medal in the event in the World Championships next month in Liberec, Czech Republic, and the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver.
OFFICIAL RESULTS: 2009 DKB FIS WORLD CUP NORDIC COMBINED
Schonach, Germany – Jan. 3, 2009
Nordic Combined Team 96/4x5K
1. Germany, (1/4)
2. Norway, (4/1) +19.6 seconds back
3. Austria, (2/5) +34.7
4. Finland, (3/7) +57.1
5. France, (6/3) +1:02.5
6. United States, (8/2) +1:21.0