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Demong, Olympic teammates look to Worlds

January 28, 2011
By Elizabeth Karam, U.S. Ski Team

PARK CITY, Utah - Vermontville's Billy Demong, a two-time Olympic medalist, will join Olympic medalists and world champions Johnny Spillane and Todd Lodwick in leading the decorated U.S. Nordic Combined World Championship Team to Holmenkollen in Oslo, Norway Feb. 26 through March 4.

The team, whose members have achieved four World Championship titles plus one team and three individual Olympic medals, was announced Monday after athletes qualified through World Cup and Continental Cup competition.

Joining the three medalists on the team are World Championship newcomers Taylor Fletcher, Bryan Fletcher and Nick Hendrickson.

"The team is going to be a mix of veterans and newcomers," said head coach Dave Jarrett. "We are looking forward to Oslo with the nordic atmosphere, crowds and the chance to perform on a big stage. We will prepare the best we know how and do everything we can to win medals."

The U.S. athletes have treated the World Cup season as a buildup toward the World Championships, with each of the three medalists competing on reduced schedules. Lodwick has the best U.S. result with a fourth in Austria earlier this month. Spillane, who suffered a knee injury last summer, made his comeback just a week ago.

Demong took a month off in anticipation of the birth of his baby boy. Both Demong and Spillane have had strong cross-country performances in their returns and will be putting a big focus on jump training heading into the Championships.

In 2009, Lodwick and Demong racked up World Championship titles, with Demong clinching the large hill and Lodwick topping the Gundersen and mass start normal hill events. After a historic 2010, the USA crew is ready to sport the new Bjorn Daehlie black uniforms in Oslo as they head to the heart of nordic skiing.

In Vancouver, Spillane, a 2003 World Champion, earned three silver medals, Demong took home a gold and silver and Lodwick led the USA to silver in the team event.

Adding to the success and depth of the 2011 team are the Fletcher brothers and Hendrickson. Both Fletchers are heading into World Championships strong after posting top 30 results on the World Cup stage. Hendrickson is coming in with momentum after having successful races on the Continental Cup tour.

"Bryan Fletcher has had the best season of anyone on the team this year," Jarrett said. "We are looking forward to seeing his progression continue in Oslo and Taylor Fletcher is coming on strong."

The powerhouse six-man team will begin its four World Championship events Saturday, Feb. 26 with the normal hill competition. The 2011 schedule was changed from 2009 when the mass start event (won by Lodwick) was added to the program. It has since been eliminated with a second team event being added, with one each on the normal and large hills.

The team will be training on the Olympic venues in Utah over the next three weeks before heading to a pre-Worlds camp in the Olympic village of Lillehammer, Norway.



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