HINERZARTEN, Germany (Jan. 27) - Michael Ward (Aspen, CO), who trains with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, led the USA Nordic Combined Team in the opening combined event at the FIS Nordic Junior World Championships in Hinterzarten, Germany.
Ward, making his debut start in the prestigious 20 and under World Championship landed a solid 23rd place in the ski jumping portion and recorded the 22nd fastest time in the 5K race to top the American foursome in the high Black Forest region of Germany.
Japan's Junshiro Kobayashi destroyed the field on the HS 108M AlderSchanze to earn a 36 hundredths of a second lead before the gundersen cross-country start. Kobayashi held off the field to win his first Junior Championship. Slovenia's Marjan Jelenko held on to his 2nd place jump result, taking the silver medal before Germany's, Janis Moreweiser, who crossed the line in third.
Nick Hendrickson (Park City, UT) and Taylor Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) recorded the third and second fastest times in the 5Krace, but combined with their jump performance, they could only manage 28th and 30th at the conclusion of the Nordic combined event. Cliff Field (Steamboat Springs, CO) turned in a strong result in cross country to finish 36th in his second Junior World Championship.
Both Ward and Field have been jumping on borrowed and modified ski jumping skis, as their equipment has been either missing or en route from Denver, CO for the last five days.
Nordic Combined Coach Martin Bayer tracked down their gear. The Steamboat duo should be ready for Fridays 10km event. The US will end its junior championship with a team event on Sunday.