There are few opportunities to list American Nordic skiers as gold medal favorites, but the US Nordic Combined squad has changed that over the last few years. And in today’s team event, there is no other nation that can match the depth and ski speed of the Americans. With three skiers all capable of winning individual events, and the up-an-coming Brett Camerota who had a fantastic jump in the first individual competition, the US is in position to win the first Olympic Gold in US Nordic Combined history.
But nothing can be taken for granted. The team does have the ski strength to overcome a bad jump by one of team member, though if several falter, it could be tough. And Camerota is definitely step below on the skis. He will need to have a solid race and not lose too much ground.
Norway, with several very fast skiers will be one major challenger. Magnus Moan is one of the fastesst out there, but they lack the depth after him and Petter Tande. The Finns and Austrians are also strong, and France features Jason Lamy Chapuis.
Lamy Chapuis has little support though, and would need record performance from his teammates to be in the hunt for gold.
Austria has all four starters ranked in the top-22 in the overall World Cup standings, but only Felix Gottwald can match the US trio of Demong, Spillane and Lodwick.
This puts added pressure on Camerota as the key link. IFf he jumps well and can hold on in the 1st leg of the cross-country, Austria may not have the firepower to respond to the American big guns. Gottwald is one of the fastest skiers, and as the anchor he will match up with silver medalist in the individual Johnny Spillane.
Jumping gets underway in just 10 minutes with the cross-country portion later this afternoon. Each skier jumps once, and the race is a 4x5km relay pursuit start based on the combined jumping scores.
Gold – USA
Silver – Austria
Bronze – Finland
Topher Sabot is the editor of FasterSkier.