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Nordic Notes: Men to Focus on 50K

FIS Nordic World Ski Championships

Fri, Mar  2, 2007 - By US Ski Team

SAPPORO, Japan (March 1) - The nordic combined individual event is up next for the U.S. Ski Team with two jumps on the 100-meter hill in the morning and a 15K race in the afternoon on Saturday. The normal hill jumping event is set for Saturday night.

"The last two days have been hard. It's been pretty windy - today it was from all directions," Lasse Ottesen, U.S. nordic combined head coach, said Thursday night. "We had two rounds yesterday and a round-and-a-half today. All of our guys got two jumps, but Billy [Demong - Vermont, NY] was the last guy down in the second round. Not everyone on the other teams got two jumps."

Ottesen said he and Coach Dave Jarrett would decide Friday night who would compete in the final event. Demong and Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO) are set and the last two spots are open among Eric and Brett Camerota (both Park City, UT) and Bryan Fletcher (also Steamboat).

"These are Bryan's first competitions at this level - he's never done a World Cup," Ottesen said, "and I'm pleased with what I've seen. He's worked hard."

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The next cross country race at the 2007 FIS Nordic World Championships is the men's 4x10K relay Friday. The U.S. Ski Team will not have an entry, preferring instead to focus on the men's 50K classic technique Sunday.

"We feel the 50K offers us the best chance, better than the relay, to have a good team result," Head Coach Pete Vordenberg said.

He said Kris Freeman (Andover, NH), James Southam (Anchorage, AK), Lars Flora (also Anchorage) and Andrew Johnson (Greensboro, VT) will race. Freeman has said he's in the best condition of his career and Vordenberg sees a top-10 finish as a realistic possibility; if it happens, it would be the best U.S. result at Worlds since the 2003 Worlds in Val di Fiemme, Italy, when Freeman was fourth in the 15K classic and Carl Swenson finished fifth in the 50K freestyle despite falling early when another skier collided with him.

"Kris had a great classic race [Saturday] in the pursuit, and he's very strong in classic. He feels he's ready and I don't doubt it. Top-10 certainly isn't out of reach for him," the coach said.