By Tom Kelly/USSA.ORG
Americans Todd Lodwick and Billy Demong put on an impressive show on the cross country trails Wednesday, but it was not enough to crack the medals in the large hill nordic combined at the 2011 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships. Lodwick was fifth and Demong sixth as France’s Jason Lamy-Chappuis took gold.
“Jason did a good job both jumping and skiing, as did the Germans,” said Head Coach Dave Jarrett. “Those guys deserved to win. We’re just a little bit short but it’s close. We’re happy with fifth and sixth.”
“We’re still in there. It’s bittersweet because we could medal but at the same time we’re doing better than you would think,” Demong said. “The impressive thing today was that we jumped better as a team.”
Demong, who had the second fastest cross country time behind Gottwald, caught Lodwick but could not pass him. In the end, Rydzek and Frenzel battled for silver and bronze with Klemetsen dropping to fourth, not a factor in the medals. Lodwick was 28.8 seconds back with Demong 49.3 out.
“Last lap when I caught Todd there was nowhere to go at that point. I felt good I skied hard and I think I made up as much as I could today, given the conditions and everything,” said Demong. “The other guys at the front skied well and kind of held the gap. I started pretty hard and didn’t blow up by any means. But it was a day to go hard from the start and I came out of it.”
After the morning jumping round, Lodwick was 12th and faced with a one minute, 12 second deficit in cross country with Demong, the defending World and Olympic Champion, 1:35 back. And while the field was definitely open, the gap was just too much to bridge.
Norway’s Haavard Klemetsen and Lamy-Chappuis put down massive 133.5 meter jumps on the Holmenkolbakken, with Klemetsen taking a narrow six-second edge. Lodwick led the USA going 123.0 and Demong 117.5 meters. And while the time back for the top Americans was big, top stars like Germany’s Bjorn Kircheisen and Austria’s Felix Gottwald were even further back.
As expected, the race was in Lamy-Chappuis’ hands from the start. To his credit, Klemetsen hung in with the French World Cup leader much longer than expected. Meanwhile, Lodwick and Demong made their moves through the field. But the German duo of Eric Frenzel and Johannes Rydzek kept the pressure on – never really attacking Lamy-Chappuis, but ensuring the pace stayed strong.
“I new the snow conditions were going to make the course a little slower, so I didn’t go out that hard. I just gradually built into it and felt better and better,” said Lodwick. “The guys with the skis in the wax room did a great job and it made us feel better on the course knowing that what we have on our feet is the best we can do.”
Jarrett said they had hope after the jump, but it would have taken a perfect scenario.
“We knew that those guys would have to have a really good effort to have chance. They were just about there but ran out of real estate at the end.”
The season for Lodwick has been up and down as he’s battled illness. While he was off the medals, he felt good for the first time.
“I finally feel like I can go out and compete and breathe and I think today showed it,” said Lodwick. “It’s been an uphill battle. I get healthy then I train. Then I get sick again and have to take time off. But I’m happy to be here at World Championships.”
The final nordic combined event will be the large hill team event set for Friday at Holmenkollen. Jarrett will name the four team members after Thursday’s jump training on the big hill.
Gold: Jason Lamy-Chappuis, France, (2/14) 25:31.6
Silver: Johannes Rydzek, Germany, (5/8) +6.7
Bronze: Eric Frenzel, Germany, (6/7) +7.0
5. Todd Lodwick, Steamboat Springs, CO, (12/6) +28.8
6. Billy Demong, Vermontville, NY, (20/2) +49.3
22. Johnny Spillane, Steamboat Springs, CO, (36/11) +2:02.5
30. Bryan Fletcher, Steamboat Springs, CO, (41/23) +2:57.6
35. Taylor Fletcher, Steamboat Springs, CO, (50/28) +3:41.2
For complete results: http://www.fis-ski.com/uk/604/610.html?sector=NK&raceid=1470
photo: US Ski Team-ussa.smugmug.com