Kuusamo, Finland – “It is hard not to be upset but in reality we are here with a new group of guys competing full time on World Cup. It is going to take some time to build them up to 2014,” U.S. Nordic Combined Team head coach Dave Jarrett said to FasterSkier.
Bryan Fletcher was the top American after the jumping, where he finished 35th. Taylor Fletcher was 38th after the jumping, Brett Camerotta was 40th and Bill Demong was 45th. Demong worked his way up to 32nd in the cross-country, while Taylor Fletcher advanced three spots, from 38th to 35th. Bryan Fletcher fell two spots, from 35th to 37th. All are capable of better performances, Jarrett said.
Jason Lamy Chappuis (FRA) won Friday’s World Cup opener, finishing in 28:33.5, Eric Frenzel (GER) was second (28:40.1) and Mario Stecher (AUT) was third (28:45.2).
Trying to see the silver lining in the situation, Jarrett pointed out that he has a young team that needs experience.
“The new group is ahead of Billy and Johnny’s curve for their age and need to be mixing it up on WC more often,” Jarrett said. “The Fletchers have only been in top 30 once in the winter in their careers, and today they were 35th and 37th in a full strength World Cup field. Neither competed up to their training level, and they know that,” Jarrett said, noting that the World Cup opener featured plenty of challenges. Windy jumping combined with cold temperatures made it hard for the athletes on both the hill and on the course.
“The conditions were difficult on the hill and you needed to be mentally tough and just go for it. It is going to take time. If they can consistently be in the points, working their way up, we will be satisfied,” Jarrett said.
For Billy Demong, the result list from the first World Cup tells only part of the story, Jarrett said.
“Billy is a bit off, but is closer than today showed. He is looking forward to tomorrow and [next week’s] competitions in Lillehammer, too.”
Camerotta did not start the cross-country after finishing 40th in the jumping. He has his work cut out for him in the coming weeks.
“Brett is struggling on this hill, but knows he needs to be better on the hill to start the race,” Jarrett said.
Overall, the results from the first competition of the season leave room for improvement and simply stepping up to the task. Jarrett said he is glad to have the first race under their belt, and now the team needs to look ahead to the rest of the season.
“The results today, in both jumping and cross-country, were not where the boys are in training, but training is training and now we need to execute in the competition. It is good to get the first competition finished, and see where we are and what we need to do,” Jarrett said.
“At this point, we are here with some new talent, and we will be happy with solid performances in the points and for sure, top 20. As far as Billy goes, he has been on a good trajectory since September, and we are working towards Oslo in February. He is certainly capable of winning on any given day. His jumping is becoming more and more consistent, so we will see how it goes today,” Jarrett said.
Complete results here: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/610.html?sector=NK&raceid=1439
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.