CHAUX-NEUVE, France – Bryan Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) turned in yet another strong performance, moving up from 25th in the jump to finish 21st in a nordic combined World Cup in France. Austrian David Kreiner spoiled the day for fans of French World Cup leader Jason Lamy-Chappuis as he took the win. Lamy-Chappuis was fourth.
The race also marked the return of Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) to action following the birth of his baby boy Liam a week ago. Demong struggled in the jump, finishing 49th, but blistered the 10k cross country with the third fastest time to finish 22nd.
Lamy-Chapuis continued his dominance on the jump, taking a 10 second lead over Finn Janne Ryynaenen. Within a kilometer, an Austrian pack started to develop first with Bernhard Gruber and Christoph Bieler chasing Lamy-Chappuis. Felix Gottwald and Kreiner soon joined the chase in a following pack about 25 seconds back and the race was on.
The packs joined forces after the midway mark with the Austrians taking a strong 1-2-3 position into the final kilometer Norwegian Mikko Kokslien, who had the fastest cross country time of the day, came on strong in the final stretch to move into second.
“Bryan is solid and it was tight today,” said Nordic Combined Head Coach Dave Jarrett. “He jumped solidly and had four and a half out of five good laps and almost managed to stay in the top 20, which was the goal for the day. A few more meters on his jump and he could be challenging for the top 10.”
It was Fletcher’s sixth time in the points this year.
While Demong’s jump was off pace, he picked up great confidence in cross country.
“Bill had quite a bit more presence in the race and looked more and more like his normal self,” said Jarrett. “Today will make him feel better and more confident for tomorrow. At least on the cross country side he’s more like normal. That could take the pressure off on the jump.”
It was Spillane’s third event back from a knee injury and he, too, saw great strength in his cross country with the 13th fastest time. “Every race for Johnny is getting stronger and stronger,” added Jarrett. “Johnny is good enough in cross country and if he jumps well he can hold his own. He hasn’t been jumping that much since the comeback. He needs more consistent jumps to get into a rhythm and to feel confident.”
Between now and World Championships in a month the Team will spend much of its time in Park City training, with Demong and Spillane focusing on jumping at the Utah Olympic Park.
Action continues in Chaux-Neuve Sunday with another large hill event before the World Cup takes a long break for the World Championships which start in a month. The U.S. team will be named this week.
FIS Nordic Combined World Cup
Chaux Neuve, France – Jan. 22, 2010
1. David Kreiner, Austria (7/5) 21:59.2
2. Mikko Kokslien, Norway (17/1) +0.6
3. Felix Gottwald, Austria (16/2) +1.5
21. Bryan Fletcher, Steamboat Springs, CO (24/21) +1:13.8
22. Billy Demong, Vermontville, NY (49/3) +1:19.0
31. Johnny Spillane, Steamboat Springs, CO (42/13) +1:34.6
34. Todd Lodwick, Steamboat Springs, CO (37/27) +1:57.0
For complete results: www.fis-ski.com (http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/610.html?sector=NK&raceid=1449)