Jason Lamy Chappuis (FRA), the overall World Cup winner last winter, was back on top of the podium on Sunday for the second day of Nordic Combined competition in Ramsau, Austria.
“Of course I’m very happy that I can wear the yellow bib again, it’s a familiar feeling,” said Lamy Chappuis to the FIS media after his win. The 25-year-old has been on the World Cup podium 42 different times, and has stood at the top for 16 of them.
Sunday’s race was once again contested in the Gundersen format. The American squad didn’t fare quite as well as Saturday on the normal hill; Todd Lodwick led the way in 23rd heading into the 10 k, a place he maintained at the end of the race. Billy Demong ended up in 26th, Bryan Fletcher in 31st and Johnny Spillane in 47th.
USST Nordic Combined Head Coach Dave Jarrett, who was in Park City, UT for the Continental Cup over the weekend, said that there was definitely frustration on his team after Sunday, especially given that Fletcher and Demong had the 8th- and 9th-fastest times of the day, and know their jumping abilities are there.
Fletcher actually put together some of his best jumps this weekend in training, consistently jumping in the top 10 in his training jumps before competition. Successful jumps early in the day can sometimes have an adverse affect on the ones that really count, explained Jarrett.
“In jumping, the harder you try, the less you get,” said Jarrett on Sunday afternoon. “And if you perform well in the trial, it raises your expectations.”
To avoid the potential for his athletes to psych themselves out, Jarrett said they sometimes skip the training round and go straight into the competitive jumping.
In the 10 k, Jarrett said the course didn’t favor those who had jumped poorly and started further back. He echoed Demong’s comments after Saturday’s race, saying that it was hard to bridge the gap between packs without pulling your group along with you. In talking with him on Sunday, Jarrett gathered that Demong just hadn’t been able to drop the pack he was leading on the gradual uphill.
He was the top performer for the US, Lodwick’s result on Sunday was not his best either. Jarrett said his training suffered in the off-season from illness and from having to commute to Denver to treat his son’s health issues.
“He’s not in super shape,” said Jarrett. “But for what he’s been able to do…it’s good that he’s able to go out and [get 23rd].”
Spillane, meanwhile, has been struggling to dial in his jumping equipment. A recent FIS rule change altered the length requirements for jumping skis. Where the length of a jumper’s ski was once based on his height, now it’s determined by Body Mass Index (BMI). For most of the U.S. athletes, this resulted in no change in ski length. But for Spillane, who is tall and skinny, and therefore has a low BMI for someone of his height, his skis now have to be about 6 cm shorter.
“He fell into that breaking point on the chart,” said Jarrett. “He’s still trying to dial in skis that feel good, feel fast, and react the way he expects them to react.”
World Cup Nordic Combined competition moves to nearby Seefeld, Austria on December 16, 17 and 18.
Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.