February 2, 2006
PREDAZZO, Italy (US Ski Team Press Release)— U.S. nordic combined skiers have found screwy winds but, in general, outstanding conditions this week for their pre-Olympic training camp in this area which hosted the 1991 and 2003 World Championships.
"I've gotten about 25 jumps in the last few days, andthat's great for me. I've only had about 70 on-snow jumps this year, so it's been a really good week for me, said Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO), who became the only American to win a nordic gold medal at Worlds or the Olympics when he zipped to the sprint title in '03. He's nursing a painful right shoulder injury, which will require post-season reconstructive surgery, but Spillane said the chance to get that many training jumps has been terrific for him.
"We've had some tough conditions with the winds, but the (large) hill's been in good shape and I've been able to do a lot of things to improve my jumping. I'm still not at the level I should be at, and where I want to be...but this has been excellent for me. My jumping's been getting stronger every day, he said Thursday night.
In addition to his rebound, Coach Dave Jarrett said Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) - heading to his fourth Olympics next week - "has continued to jump at a very high level, and we certainly want him to maintain that, and he does, too. Bill (Demong - Vermontville, NY, heading to his third Winter Games) is fighting some kind of a stomach but he may be getting over it; he skied some today and said he was feeling better.
Beyond the Ski Team's Big Three, Jarrett and Jump Coach Lasse Ottesen said Brett Camerota (Park City, UT) had been jumping well while Eric Camerota (also Park City) and Carl Van Loan (Webster, NH) had been inconsistent with their jumps.
After the last World Cup Sunday in Seefeld, Austria, the U.S. athletes jumped Monday in Seefeld and then drove to Val di Fiemme, which is south of Innsbruck, through the Brenner Pass. Cross country skiing is in Tesero with jumping in Predazzo. "It's been going pretty good, Jarrett said. "We did some intervals Tuesday and had two sessions (Wednesday). The Russians and the Chinese special jumpers are hre, so we almost have the hill to ourselves and get 8-10-12 jumps a day.
"We've had awesome weather, he went on, "so we've gotten plenty of skiing. We'll do some intervals (speed workouts) on the weekend and have a team competition Sunday before we head to Torino.
Nordic combined is one of the first sports to compete at the Torino. After Opening Ceremonies Friday night Feb. 10, combined has its individual event the next day with two rounds of normal hill jumping and a 15K race. Starts will not be determined until the Ski Team goes through some of its training next week, Jarrett said.