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Lake Placid to host Olympic team trials for Nordic combined, ski jumping

USA Nordic CEO and Vermontville native Billy Demong stands at the Olympic Jumping Complex in Lake Placid during a press conference Thursday, Sept. 23. (News photo — Parker O’Brien)

LAKE PLACID — Lake Placid got an early Christmas present on Thursday, Sept. 23.

The trials for the 2022 U.S. Olympic team for Nordic combined and ski jumping are coming to the Olympic Jumping Complex and Mount Van Hoevenberg on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee, USA Nordic and the state Olympic Regional Development Authority announced Thursday. The trials, previously held in Park City, Utah, will bring the country’s top athletes to Lake Placid to compete for a spot on Team USA.

The upcoming arrival of the Olympic team trials was announced at a press conference at the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex by Olympic gold medalist and USA Nordic CEO Billy Demong and Michael Pratt, CEO of the state Olympic Regional Development Authority, which manages Lake Placid’s Olympic venues.

“I think this is an amazing way to return the sport to the Lake Placid region,” Demong said. “It’s really a dream come true. Twenty years ago, as this venue started to fall out of modern standards, we were able to use it for another decade for National Championships and et cetera. It’s really been a long-time goal that I have shared with the staff here at ORDA and the local jumping community to rebuild these hills and to bring them up to the world-class standards that they will be now.

“What a great way to kick off the return of this venue by posting not only our first training camp on an ice track in North America with the national team but then to follow up with one of the biggest events of our sport, outside of the Olympic games on NBC as the first real trial run of it.”

The event will showcase some of the top men and women ski jumpers and Nordic combined skiers in the country competing for placement on the U.S. Olympic team. As many as five men and women in each discipline will earn selection on Team USA, but only the winner in each discipline is guaranteed a spot at the 2022 Olympic Winter Games in Beijing. The full teams will be announced in late January.

“For those of you who have watched in the past, I have never won it,” Demong said during the press conference. “It is a winner-take-all format. It is a golden ticket to the games, which we will be awarding to the women’s and men’s of ski jumping, as well as the men’s winner of Nordic combined.”

Currently, the Olympic Winter Games does not have an event for women’s nordic combined, but Demong said that he, along with USA Nordic are still pushing hard across this country to get women’s nordic combined into the 2026 Olympic games. He said U.S. Ski and Snowboard International Ski Federation is also contributing.

Among athletes who are expected to represent USA Nordic Sport in the event, include: three-time Nordic Combined Olympian Taylor Fletcher, who will be looking to make his fourth Olympic team; Nina Lussi, a Lake Placid native attempting to earn her first Olympic appearance; and ski jumper Andrew Urlaub, coming off a fifth-place finish at the FIS Summer Grand Prix.

Alongside the announcement of the team trials came the announcement that USA Nordic national ski jumping and nordic combined teams will arrive in Lake Placid for an inaugural training camp on Nov. 1.

“We will be here, come out and watch us in early November, we will be skiing on snow at Mount Van Hoevenberg,” Demong said. “We will be jumping on the new ice track surface to plastic on the HS100 and maybe the big hill.”

The announcement comes within a week of the announcement that Lake Placid will host the IBSF Bobsleigh and Skeleton World Championships in 2025. More events could be expected in the Lake Placid region soon, according to Demong.

“I’m working tightly with the ORDA events team, planning all the way out to 2030 right now,” he said.