Nordic combined skier Nick Hendrickson launches into the air on Howelsen Hill’s big jump Tuesday afternoon during training for today’s 2010 U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials. Jumping in the event is slated to begin with training at 8:30 a.m. and competition at 9 a.m.  The 10-kilometer Nordic combined race begins at 11:30 a.m.  The winner will earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

Photo by John F. Russell

Nordic combined skier Nick Hendrickson launches into the air on Howelsen Hill’s big jump Tuesday afternoon during training for today’s 2010 U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials. Jumping in the event is slated to begin with training at 8:30 a.m. and competition at 9 a.m. The 10-kilometer Nordic combined race begins at 11:30 a.m. The winner will earn a spot on the U.S. Olympic team.

Nordic team members: Lost bags, jet lag are just part of the sport

If you go

What: Nordic combined 2010 U.S. Olympic Trials jumping and cross-country race

When: Today’s events include 8:30 a.m. trial jumps, 9 to 9:30 a.m. competition jumps and an 11:30 a.m. 10-kilometer cross-country race

Where: The jumping portion takes place at the Howelsen Hill Ski Area. The 10-kilometer cross-country race will start and finish at the Brent Romick Rodeo Arena grounds.

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U.S. Ski Team member Brett Camerota looks to his landing after taking off the big jump at Howelsen Hill on Tuesday.

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Steamboat Springs Nordic combined skier Bryan Fletcher takes flight off of Howelsen Hill's big jump during open training Tuesday afternoon. Fletcher, and about 20 other skiers, will be hoping to land a spot on for the 2010 Olympic Games today during the 2010 U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials. Jumping will begin with training at 8:30 a.m., the competitive jump is scheduled for 9 a.m. and the 10-kilometer cross-country race will start at 11:30 a.m.

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Changed flights, missing bags and long international flights are just part of the game for the members of the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team.

“There is nothing that we can do about it,” said Dave Jarrett, U.S. Nordic combined coach. “Unless we want to live in Europe, we are always going to be faced with challenging flights and tight schedules.”

Sometimes that means showing up just in time for an event, and other times it means missing training. On Monday, two of the U.S. Ski Team’s biggest stars were noticeably absent from open training and a provisional jump. The U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team ran into a couple of problems on its return from a World Cup event in Ramsau, Austria. Johnny Spillane, Todd Lodwick and coach Chris Gilbertson had to run to make their connecting flight in Amsterdam and ended up arriving in Steamboat Springs short a few important bags.

“I’m going to run to make my flight, but a baggage handler isn’t going to run to make sure my bags make it on my flight,” Lodwick said. “I don’t stress about the things that are out of my control. The only things I get stressed about are the ones that I can control.”

The good news is that one of Lodwick’s bags, the one with his jump helmet and boots, arrived later Tuesday afternoon. He was hoping to have his jumping skis and the rest of his stuff sometime Tuesday night. But either way, Lodwick said he would be ready to go when the 2010 U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials officially open today — even if his jumping and cross-country skis fail to arrive. He said he would find older gear or borrow equipment from some of the other athletes.

Bill Demong also had a long trip back from Europe, but he learned early that his flight to Salt Lake City out of Paris had been canceled, and he quickly arranged another flight to the United States. He ended up going to Munich, Germany, to Atlanta and then to Salt Lake. He arrived in Steamboat Springs early Tuesday and took a few jumps at Howelsen. He was jet-lagged and tired, but he said that would not affect his performance today.

“You get used to it,” Demong said about jet lag. “I’ve won three World Cups coming off of the plane. We are professionals, and dealing with travel problems and making the best of our situation, that’s part of it.”

Lodwick hasn’t kept track but said he estimates he’s made more than 100 trips overseas in his career. The skiers said they are used to lost bags, delays and arriving at their planned destination a bit late sometimes.

“You have to learn to relax and use the time to focus,” Demong said. “Most of the time there is nothing you can do, so there is no reason to get worked up about it.”

Jarrett said most of the American skiers, including those trying to get back from an event in Lake Placid, N.Y., encountered some problems getting to Steamboat this week because of poor weather in the Eastern United States and in Europe and the volume of people who are traveling this time of year. But he said all of the top American Nordic combined skiers are in town and that it should make for a great U.S. Olympic Trials.

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