The U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team made history at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games by winning its first Olympic medals in the sport. Four athletes saw their way to the podium throughout those historic two weeks. Billy Demong nabbed the first Olympic gold medal in Nordic combined, but it was Johnny Spillane who took silver the previous day to mark the first medal won by Team USA at the Games.
The veterans are still in the mix of athletes seeking bids to the Sochi Games. Along with Demong and Spillane are some determined newcomers making their claim as top contenders in the sport.
Bryan Fletcher has charged to the front of the pack, leaving his mark with a victory at the famed Holmenkollen King's Cup to put a stamp on the 2012 season. Fletcher continues to garner top-15 results and will prove be a top contender for an individual and team podium at the Sochi Games. A cancer survivor as a young child, Fletcher is one of the team's elite jumpers, which will put him in prime position approaching cross-country portions of the competition. His younger brother, Taylor Fletcher, is also known for his incredibly strong cross-country skiing, and will be a favorite in the team event heading into the Sochi Games.
Nordic combined events include a single ski jumping competition and a 10-kilometer cross-country race. The Olympic program features three events, including individual men normal hill, individual men large hill and team men large hill, in which four athletes each take one jump before combining for a 4x5 cross-country relay. Points are scored for distance and style in the ski jumping portion of the competition. The skiers or teams with the most points will start first in the cross-country portion, followed by the next best jumper or relay after a gap, which reflects the difference in the jumping scores.
The Nordic combined competition will be held at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center in the mountain cluster during the Sochi Games. The complex can seat up to 9,600 spectators and will also be used for jumping events during the Games.
- The veteran-driven team is older, but with age comes wisdom. The veteran leadership will be needed if the U.S. plans to repeat its efforts from the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games.
- Bryan Fletcher is a very strong, rising star, who could be in contention for an individual medal at the Sochi Games. The cancer survivor is now one of the top jumpers in the sport.
- Fletcher’s younger brother, Taylor Fletcher, is projected to be a favorite in the team event in Sochi. While his brother is known for his strong jumping skills, Taylor Fletcher is leaving his mark on the cross-country portion of the competition.
ATHLETES TO WATCH
With more than a dozen years of experience on the U.S. Ski Team, Demong has established himself as one of the sport’s greatest athletes. He became the first American to win Olympic gold in a Nordic event at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games. Demong also made history with his 2007 World Championships medal, and joined Todd Lodwick for a four-medal performance at the 2009 World Championships.
Fletcher is a cancer survivor whose tenacity and attitude took him to the top of his sport during the 2011-12 season when he won the Holmenkollen King’s Cup. A year ago, Fletcher made his debut as a regular on the world cup circuit with a top-10 finish and paced the U.S. on the world rankings list.
Each country can qualify a maximum of five quota spots for the Sochi 2014 Olympic Winter Games, with up to four athletes in each event. The allocation of quotas is based on the Olympic Quota Allocation List, which is calculated using the FIS World Cup and Grand Prix standings, followed by the Continental Cup standings from the 2012-13 and 2013-14 seasons combined. The qualification period ends on Jan. 19, 2014 with a total of 55 quota spots up for grabs.
Selection criteria for the 2014 U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined Team will be available in May 2013.
|Feb. 9-10||FIS Nordic World Cup||Almaty, Kazakhstan|
|Feb. 20-March 3||World Championships||Val di Fiemme, Italy|
|March 8-9||FIS Nordic World Cup||Lahti, Finland|
|March 15-16||FIS Nordic World Cup||Oslo, Norway|
|December||Olympic Trials (possible)||TBD|
|January||Olympic Team announcement||TBD|