Todd Lodwick, Taylor Fletcher, Bryan Fletcher and Billy Demong after their bronze win in the nordic combined team event at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships, showing off good luck American flag moustaches. (U.S. Ski Team - Sarah Brunson)
VAL DI FIEMME, Italy (Feb. 24) - Veteran Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) anchored a solid full team performance to lead the USA to bronze in the nordic combined team event at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Val di Fiemme. A strong day on the jumps set the U.S. up for it's first ever medal in the team event at World Championships in which each of the four team athletes performed both on the jump and on the cross country track.
Veteran Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) anchored a solid full team performance to lead the USA to bronze in the nordic combined team event at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Val di Fiemme.
First ever team event medal for U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team at World Championships (won silver at 2010 Olympics). Best previous was fourth in 1995 at Thunder Bay.
A strong day on the jumps set the U.S. up for it's win in the team event in which each of the four team athletes performed both on the jump and on the cross country track.
Todd Lodwick led off with a strong 93.5 meter jump to set the pace and his teammates followed suit.
The tide was especially turned in round three when Taylor Fletcher was forced down six start spots at the top but took advantage of a wind-based restart to blast a 93.0 meter ride - well more than the 79.0 he had posted in his original start.
On the cross country track, Taylor Fletcher led off and was successful at joining up with Norway to close gap on Japan and France.
Bryan Fletcher on second leg moved quickly past Japan and Norway then worked together with them to stay in contact with the leading Austrian team.
Lodwick turned in a gutsy, body wrenching performance on the third leg to stay with the lead pack and position the USA for the anchor leg.
Demong quickly took command in the anchor leg moving from fifth to first on the initial climb. Norway's Magnus Moan took the lead on the downhill nearing the stadium before France's Jason Lamy Chappuis took command, battling Moan to a near photo finish with Demong close behind for bronze.
It was a fourth career World Championship medal for Demong and third for Lodwick, who is skiing in his ninth Worlds.
Team members and coaches sported American flag moustaches courtesy of Bryan Fletcher, who had worn the same when he won Holmenkollen last March.
The combined team is back in action Thursday on the large hill.
QUOTES Taylor Flectcher It was a really tough race and we certainly had some work to do. It started on the jump hill and I think together as a team we performed as good as we needed to on the jump hill today. We all put down a solid effort on the racecourse - we hung tough. Bill came through on the end with a good sprint to take third.
We came in this knowing that we were going to be close for the cross country, knowing the jumping had put ourselves in position. We don’t come to this competition to lose so we did our best to fight for the podium and fight for the victory. I give it up to our staff, teammates, coaches and, of course, the mustache was the deciding factor in this. We had a lot of fun with it and it brought our team together.
Billy Demong It was great. Honestly, going into the last leg I had a goal to just ski a smart race and not lead it all. I ended up leading almost the whole thing. In the end I was a little unsure if the other guys were really going to be fresh, and coming down the last hill I’m like, ‘Don’t look back, you don’t want to know. Just keep chasing Magnus and Jason.’ So I think it was really a relief to come within five meters of the finish line and just glance and say, ‘Okay, yea. We’ve got this.’
Dave Jarrett, U.S. Nordic Team Coach It was a good day; especially Taylor on the jumping hill did an amazing job from going down six gates and then having difficult conditions. Then to go back up, do it again and have the jump like he had; to do that for the team was awesome. Todd has been a little bit sick and maybe not in the best shape and he also rallied really hard in the cross country.
On Taylor’s strong first jump and jump order We definitely needed that. He jumped pretty good yesterday and certainly wanted to start off on the right note. So that helped. We knew that it would be better for Todd, and Bryan too, to have some people around them. It was pretty windy from the bottom of the hill all the way up to the top. That was our strategy, to put Taylor first and have him go as hard as he could to close as much time between the front and us.
In the team events, the guys tend to rally for each more than they may do individually. So it’s good to see, and it’s good to be a part of.