Construction surrounds the RusSki Gorki Jumping center during the nordic combined test event outside Sochi. (FIS)
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (Feb. 3) - The weekend FIS Nordic Combined World Cup wrapped up Sunday as the final test of the RusSki Gorki jumping complex prior to the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. The USA was seventh in the 4x5k team event with Germany taking the win. Skiing second, Taylor Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) posted the fastest cross country time on his leg. The U.S. Ski Team will skip next weekend's World Cup in Kazhakstan to prepare for the upcoming World Championships.
Taylor Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) had the fastest second leg of the 4x5k team event as the USA finished seventh behind Germany.
The U.S was eighth in the jump with Bryan Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) getting the long ride at 128.5. The USA started 55 seconds behind Germany in cross country.
Bryan Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) led off moving up a spot to seventh, with brother Taylor then bumping it up to fifth. Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO) ran third with Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) anchoring the relay to seventh.
It was the final test for nordic combined on the RusSki Gorki complex where both the jumping and cross country shared the same venue. Athletes skied a serpentine course through the outrun of the jump and out onto a cross country trail network built into the hillside.
After days of clouds and heavy snow at times, the sun broke through for a clear sky day in Krasnaya Polyana, 45 minutes outside Sochi.
The U.S. Ski Team will take a break from the World Cup to prepare for the upcoming World Championships.
QUOTES Billy Demong
Team USA stepped up its game today. We were right in the hunt with about eight other teams that were very very close together throughout the whole race. We were close enough to know how close we really are. In our Worlds preparation, that's really important and obviously also for next year's Olympics. Today the weather broke. We were under bright sunny skies. The jumps are situated within a magnificent mountain backdrop. We are starting to see the venue and the valley take shape where next year I think Sochi will not only be ready for the Olympic Games but also will have put on the final window dressing on and made it to a point where the world will get a snapshot of Russia that will define what a lot of people think about Russia for the coming years.
What I took away from the weekend was that the most important things for me were not only getting comfortable with this place, but also with the competition venues and mostly where I am and where I need to be a year from now.