This weekend’s World Cup Nordic Combined competition featured three days of racing in Seefeld, Austria—the resurrection of the Team Sprint event on Friday, and a HS 109/Gundersen 10 k each on Saturday and Sunday.
France came away with the most dominant overall performance of the weekend—or rather, Jason Lamy Chappuis did. He teamed up with Sebatien Lacroix to win the team sprint, and then nabbed the top result in both individual competitions.
The U.S. put together a solid performance; most notably, Bryan Fletcher placed a career-best 7th on Sunday, and was only three seconds out of the podium.
“Bryan had an awesome weekend,” said U.S. Nordic Combined Head Coach Dave Jarrett. “[He] still didn’t jump as well as we know he can but raced extremely well, one of the fastest cross-country times both Saturday and Sunday.”
Jarrett was also please with the way Fletcher and teammate Billy Demong raced in the team sprint on Friday. They skied close to the front for part of the race, but faded when Demong took a lap a little too aggressively and failed to recover.
“[They were] still in the money though,” said Jarrett.
The team sprint event was brought back to the World Cup calendar for the first time since the early 90s.
“We are psyched to have it back in the program and a medal event in Predazzo next season,” said Jarrett.
The format features two athletes from each team, who must jump and then alternate skiing 1500 meter laps until each has completed 7.5 kilometers. Several more of the events are on the World Cup schedule for later this season.
Absent from the results sheet on Saturday and Sunday was Demong, who had a poor qualifying jump (52nd) on Saturday, and per the Provisional Competition (PCR), which is used to trim the field for the weekend to 50 athletes, could not compete for the rest of the World Cup.
Jarrett was frustrated with the rule’s existence, and said it was likely on its way out. “It is a stupid rule—eliminating the field in a [two-event] sport on only half of it is asinine,” he said. In the future, Provisional Competition rules will have a qualification before each competition instead of one jump for the entire World Cup weekend.
Johnny Spillane’s performance in Seefeld was also a highlight—he placed 20th on Saturday and 22nd on Sunday, a consistent improvement over his first few World Cups. The Olympic silver medalist has been struggling to adjust to new ski length requirements for jumping skis, but Jarrett said he’s finally getting his new equipment dialed in.
“Johnny is on an upswing,” said Jarrett, noting that Spillane’s cross-country times have been improving as well.
Todd Loddwick was 39th on Saturday and 28th on Sunday. Loddwick’s off-season training was sub-optimal due to family issues, and so far hasn’t matched the form his coach believes him to be capable of. Jarrett said he would be returning home for some training and “hopefully be back later in January.”
World Cup Nordic Combined competition moves next to Schonach, Germany on January 7th and 8th.
Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.