The United States enjoyed great success in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games by bringing home four medals in the Nordic Combined event. The bar has been raised heading into the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and the winner of Saturday's Nordic Combined trial in Park City, Utah, will represent the U.S.
While Billy Demong will still be on the American Olympic squad this time around, three-time 2010 silver medal winner Johnny Spillane retired from Nordic Combined earlier this year. Unlike other Olympic skiing events, however, Nordic Combined does not feature a women's competition.
Here's an outlook of this weekend's Nordic Combined trial, which is being held in conjunction with the U.S. men's and women's ski jumping trial in a fun-filled weekend at Park City.
What: U.S. Olympic Trials 2014 Nordic Combined
When: Saturday, Dec. 28
Where: Park City, Utah
TV Info (Tape Delay): Sunday, Dec. 29, 1:30 p.m. ET, NBC
The Nordic Combined is an event that brings together elements of ski jumping and cross-country skiing, and it's been a staple of the Olympics since the 1924 Winter Games in Chamonix. A three-man team portion of the competition was introduced to the event in Calgary in 1988 and expanded to its current state of four-men teams at Nagano in 1998.
As far as the individual competition, there are two different events, with a large hill jump and a normal hill jump. The longer you soar on your jump, the bigger advantage you have when you start the 10-kilometer cross-country ski race.
Demong claimed the gold medal in Vancouver in the individual large hill event, while Spillane claimed silver in both the large hill and normal hill events.
Meanwhile, the U.S. quartet of Demong, Spillane, Todd Lodwick and Brett Camerota took silver in the team, 4 x 5-kilometer event. Demong and Lodwick are still on the U.S. Nordic Combined A team, joined by brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher heading into Sochi.
Saturday morning, the participants will take part in the individual competition before there is a team 4 x 2.5-kilometer trial later in the day.
Billy Demong Remains Favorite
Demong won a gold medal four years ago, and he's still recognized as the top Nordic Combined skier in the nation. According to Michael C. Lewis of The Salt Lake Tribune, Demong is "all but certain to clinch" America's automatic bid to the Olympics with a win on Saturday, while other U.S. participants can also qualify based on results of international competitions.
I'm just going to keep building. I feel like things are falling into place with 50 days to go here. The whole team is stepping forward week by week and I feel like we are in a good place.
If Demong falters, it would be a huge upset at this point. Lodwick is a solid longtime veteran of the sport and the Fletcher brothers have become rising stars in 2013, but the 33-year-old Demong is at the top of his game right now.