The USA Nordic combined team didn't get off to the best start on Wednesday, but that shouldn't keep them from making some strong showings next week.
Things didn't exactly go as planned in the 10-kilometer normal hill race on Wednesday for the USA Nordic combined team. Bryan Fletcher finished in just 26th, while his brother Taylor finished just 33rd. Bill Demong was the best of the four, coming in 24th while Todd Lodwick finished in dead last.
Germany's Eric Frenzel took gold while Akito Watabe from Japan took silver, and Magnus Krog was able to take bronze.
The normal hill event really hurt the USA team, as they prefer to participate in the large hill event, where they tend to have much more impressive performances. John Meyer from the Denver Post provided this quote from Bryan after the event:
It was an extremely challenging jump. I think this is probably one of the hardest hills I've ever jumped. It was really difficult to find the rhythm. I found it in the trial round today but went for it in the (competition) jump, laid it all out on the line, all or nothing, and unfortunately it didn't work out. We'll try again next week.
While this event was a disappointment for Team USA, this group of guys should be able to turn it around next week in the other two events.
The Nordic combined team had never really been good prior to 2010 in Vancouver. In fact, the USA team had never won a medal in the history of the Olympics, at least until they went to Vancouver. In 2010, the team finally got their first medal, but they were so good throughout the Games that USA ended up bringing back six medals from Nordic combined events.
The team may have struggled in the normal hill event this year, but that was to be expected to a degree. In 2010, the only athlete to earn a medal in the normal hill event was Johnny Spillane, although Todd Lodwick and Demong came in fourth and sixth, respectively.
The expectations will be much higher for the large hill event, where USA's Demong and Spillane were able to take gold and silver. All eyes will especially be on Demong, as everyone will be looking to see if he can take the gold for the second straight Olympics.
How many medals will the USA nordic combined team bring home?
The odds of that seem to be pretty high. The large hill is his best event, winning gold at the 2009 World Championships along with his Olympic gold from Vancouver.
The team event will also be a good opportunity for the Americans to win a medal. In Vancouver, the four-man team was able to take silver. Demong already has the experience of placing in the team event, and the Americans are expecting big things from the Fletcher brothers out of Steamboat Springs, Colo.
Overall, Wednesday was not ideal for USA in the Nordic combined event. However, the large hill event will take place on Tuesday with the team event two days later, and the team showed in the past that those are the two big events.
They haven't gotten off to the best start, but expect to see the USA Nordic combined team taking home at least one medal.