FILE UNDER -- Nordic

Lack of snow threatens nordic combined event in Finland

Lack of snow threatens nordic combined event in Finland{mosimage}Low snow and unseasonally warm temperatures in Scandinavia and in the American West are creating problems for U.S. nordic combined skiers as they try to make final training adjustments before the start of the World Cup — and Olympic — season.

Veterans Todd Lodwick, former sprint world champion Johnny Spillane and Bill Demong head to Norway over the weekend to start their final preparation for the annual “Nordic Opening” Nov. 25-27 in Kuusamo, Finland. But they’re not sure where they’ll wind up by the end of the week for training … or perhaps even the first World Cup start.

“Kuusamo had its snow laid down, tracks cut [for cross-country] and were just about ready to go and then it rained and they lost everything,” coach Dave Jarrett reported Friday. “And it’s pretty much the same report everywhere; no one’s got snow, it’s been warm and no one’s training.

“We’ve been exchanging e-mails with the Austrians, who wanted to come over here for some early season training, and the Norwegians were feeling us out, too, but we don’t have snow here. The Austrians went to Rovaniemi [on the Arctic Circle in north central Finland] and wound up sitting around, then going back home. So, if there’s a good thing, it’s that no one is getting to jump, no one is getting to really train.”

Head coach Bard Elden and chief waxer Ole Johan “OJ” Oyaseter were heading to Gallivare [in northern Sweden] to see what was available. “There’s nothing in Norway — really, nothing anywhere,” Jarrett said, “so the guys really aren’t sure what they’ll find when they get there.”

“It’s not an encouraging story, for sure, but we want to get started. Enough with this training,” Spillane said. “We’ve trained pretty well and we’ve had good intensity … but let’s get going with the season.”

The three will be met in Oslo by jumping coach Lasse Ottesen and will spend a couple of days in Vikersund, Norway, at a company that makes jumping suits. “They’ll get measured and get at least one suit apiece to test,” Jarrett said.

Meanwhile, Jarrett will be working with the other five members of the U.S. squad as they prepare for the first three World Cup B events Dec. 10-11 at Howelsen Hill in Steamboat Springs, Dec. 16-17 at Utah Olympic Park in Park City and Dec. 20-21 in Lake Placid, N.Y.

“We’re were planning that we’d be on snow by late October, certainly by now,” Jarrett said, “but that hasn’t worked out. We’ve had threatening storms but they’ve turned out to be rain.” So, the athletes will continue with their dryland routine — running, roller-skiing, strength workouts and the like.

“We need for it to get cold at night, not just a dump of natural snow, although that would be nice … but cold at night allows the snowmaking, which we need on the jump hills.

“We had some excellent training until now, but it’s now it’s time to move on, get back on snow and finalize these preparations. This is a big year for all of us.”

After the first two weekends — with the second World Cup stop Dec. 3-4 in Trondheim, Norway, Jarrett said the ski team will decide whether Lodwick, Demong and Spillane stay in Europe over the two-week break until the Dec. 17-18 events in Ramsau, Austria, or return home and possibly compete in one or more of the World Cup B contests to keep their conditioning high.

— Courtesy USSA News Bureau

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