Nordic combined team readies for 1st World Cup |

Nordic combined team readies for 1st World Cup

Luke Graham

Bryan Fletcher

— The focus on the 2014 Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia, began in earnest months ago.

But Saturday — when the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team begins competition in Lillehammer, Norway — makes it real.

The team begins with a normal hill HS 100 and 10-kilometer Gundersen event Saturday and a team event Sunday.

Steamboat's Bryan Fletcher and Todd Lodwick are expected to compete along with Olympic gold medalist Billy Demong. Steamboat's Johnny Spillane will sit out the opener with a back injury.

Fletcher will be looking to build on his King's Cup victory last season in Oslo last.

"Coming off a win like that and entering into a new year, I have been asked a lot how I am preparing for this season," Fletcher said in a U.S. Ski Team news release. "The truth is, I look at it as the first step in a very long staircase. In certain ways, it takes the pressure off because I know if I never win again, I can be happy that I at least got one under my belt. However, I want more, and this summer, I continued to work hard and didn’t rest on my laurels."

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The season continues Dec. 1 and 2 in Kuusamo, Finland. The team also visits Sochi in February and competes in the World Championships from Feb. 20 through March 3 in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email