PARK CITY, UT (June 21) - After an historic performance in Vancouver, Olympic medalists Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY), Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO), Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Brett Camerota (Park City, UT) are leading the charge for the newly named 2011 U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team.
"The return of our four Olympic medalists is impactful not only to our Team, but to our future," U.S. Nordic Program Director John Farra said. "It is wonderful to have our three World Champions, Johnny, Billy and Todd make a continued commitment to the sport and set their sights on more World Championship and Olympic medals and to serve as role models for our young future stars."
Three athletes were named to the A Team and six to the B Team. Six of the athletes named to the team are also Olympians.
"We are psyched to have everyone returning for this coming year. Our goals and sights are squarely set on the World Championships in Oslo," U.S. Nordic Combined Head Coach Dave Jarrett said. "This is also an opportunity for us to get our next generation of champions on the right path."
At Vancouver, the 2003 World Champion Spillane broke the drought for his team when, out of the starting gate, he snatched the silver medal during the first nordic combined event of the Olympics. His coaches are hoping for the same trailblazing out of him in the coming season.
Picking up on the team's momentum, and not wanting to leave any unfinished business in Vancouver, Demong charged the final individual nordic combined event of the Games to take gold, the first medal of its kind for the U.S.
"We have proven talent in the 'Big Three' (Demong, Spillane, Lodwick), we have the Camerota brothers and Bryan Fletcher [Steamboat Springs, CO] who have all shown they are ready to take the next step in individual World Cup and World Championship results," Jarrett said. "We also have young guys like Taylor Fletcher [Steamboat Springs, CO], Nick Hendrickson [Park City, UT], and Brett Denney [Steamboat Springs, CO] who are very capable on the cross country side already and with improved jumping will be fighting for results on the Continental Cup and World Cup."
Returning to the sport after two years of retirement with the explicit goal of winning an Olympic medal, Lodwick was able to complete his journey in 2010 as both he and Camerota played pivotal roles in the team nordic combined event, which earned the U.S. another silver medal. Lodwick will be back to defend his world title in Oslo this February.
The U.S. Nordic Combined Team's training season has already been off to a great start as athletes flock to the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association's home, the Center of Excellence in Park City. The Team will also come together for an early July camp in Steamboat Springs.
"The athletes have created a winning tradition for our sport and it is exciting to see them keep going while the rest of the athletes work to replace them," Farra said.
The DKB FIS Nordic Combined World Cup will open Nov. 26 in Kuusamo, Finland. But the primary focus of the season will be the FIS Nordic Ski World Championships at the fabled Holmenkollen in Oslo, Norway Feb. 24-March 6 where both Lodwick and Demong will defend their 2009 world crowns.
2011 U.S. NORDIC COMBINED SKI TEAM
(including date of birth, hometown and club program; * indicates Olympian):
Billy Demong (3/29/80; Vermontville, NY; New York Ski Education Foundation)*
Todd Lodwick (11/21/76; Steamboat Springs, CO; Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club)*
Johnny Spillane (11/24/80; Steamboat Springs, CO; Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club)*
Brett Camerota (1/9/85; Park City, UT; National Sports Foundation)*
Eric Camerota (1/9/85; Park City, UT; National Sports Foundation)*
Brett Denney (2/26/90; Steamboat Springs, CO; Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club)
Bryan Fletcher (6/27/86; Steamboat Springs, CO; Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club)
Taylor Fletcher (5/11/90; Steamboat Springs, CO; Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club)*
Nick Hendrickson (6/20/91; Park City, UT; Park City Nordic Ski Club)
Image by Gepa