Americans to start 1:52 back in team event
Krasnaya Polyana, Russia — On an emotional day in Russia, it’s going to take an emotion driven result to put the U.S. Nordic combined team in any sort of position for a medal.
Competing in the 4×5-kilometer Thursday at the RusSki Gorki Center in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia the Americans again struggled on the large jump hill and will begin the afternoon’s cross-country race 1 minute, 52 seconds behind the leaders, the German team.
Austria is second, seven seconds back, with Norway 25 seconds behind in third and France 35 seconds back in fourth.
“It’s going to be extremely tough,” Bryan Fletcher said. “I don’t think we’re going to be able to close a ton of time, but you never know.”
It certainly isn’t the way the United States wanted to go out of these Olympics. Six-time Olympian Todd Lodwick is retiring after the afternoon’s cross-country race.
He took his last competitive international jump on Thursday.
“It’s a lot of mixed emotions for me,” Lodwick said. “That’s the last ski jump I’ll ever take. To be at the top, I took in the moment. It was not the longest but it was a memorable one.”
It also marked the last Olympic jump for Billy Demong. Demong will continue to compete on the World Cup circuit this year, but wouldn’t commit to anything past that. He said he is on the fence if he will retire after this season.
Making up time on the cross country course has proven difficult these Olympic games. The Americans realistically needed to be within a minute to have a chance
The Americans wouldn’t reveal the order for their cross country, but will be skiing near the Italian team.
The Italians constantly been some of the fastest cross-country skiers these Olympic games.
Lodwick, though, isn’t likely to start the cross country. With his shoulder injury he said the plan is to get him in a position where his ski pole doesn’t get stepped on.
Taylor Fletcher hinted that Lodwick would likely start second with Fletchers in the first and third spot and Demong in fourth.
The Americans did win a bronze last year at the Ski World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Austria. That day they started 1:02 back.
For perspective, during their silver medal performance four years ago in Vancouver, they started just two seconds back.
“I think we’re going to enjoy today and see where it goes,” Demong said. “It’s going to be a tough race.”
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