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Japan’s veteran nordic-combined skier Akito Watabe won Saturday’s normal hill/10 k, the last individual World Cup competition of the season in Falun, Sweden.

Watabe, who started competing in the sport at age 12, had a breakthrough season in 2011 finishing second in the overall World Cup rankings. Watabe’s veteran status can be recognized by his seven Olympic starts (which include one Olympic medal).  Saturday he won in 22:07.5.

Just over five seconds later was Norway’s Jørgen Graabak in second. And in third was Italy’s Alessandro Pittin, who finished 6.8 seconds after Watabe.

Taylor Fletcher led the Americans in 11th, finishing exactly one minute behind the winner. He improved from 24th in the jump with the 12th-fastest ski time. Graabak was the fastest on the day, moving up from 21st to second, and Watabe went from second in the jump to the victory with the fourth-fastest ski time.

Taylor Fletcher’s older brother, Bryan Fletcher, who was diagnosed with Leukemia at the age of three, was the only North American to compete for the day. Bryan Fletcher placed 28th  (+1:46:5), improving from 44th in the jump.

The Steamboat, Colorado-based brothers “have a very unique relationship” according to Taylor Fletcher’s FIS profile. “We are both driven athletes and at times can be the best of friends but in competition we are individual athletes,” Fletcher writes. “We are a team and will remain that way for the rest of our lives. I have his back and he has mine.”

The final team event in Falun was canceled Sunday because of too much wind.

Saturday: Results

Windy conditions in Falun, Sweden, canceled Sunday's Nordic Combined World Cup team event, the last of the season.

Windy conditions in Falun, Sweden, canceled Sunday’s Nordic Combined World Cup team event, the last of the season.

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Editor’s Note: The above video and blog post below by Fast Big Dog, a world traveller with the U.S. Ski Team, are satirical. Take them with a grain of humor.

 

Traveling on the World Cup can be described using a phrase I learned in mountaineering, “a few minutes of excitement surrounded by hours of boredom.” Since today is a day off for Nordic Combined and there will not be a lot of activity, to help maintain everyone’s sanity and to get us the hell out of the hotel, we, like cross-country the night before, descending upon the primary form of entertainment in Falun, Sweden, the local bowling alley. Unlike the more staid and reserved xc crowd, we felt compelled to put a wager on this event.

 

Setting the terms for the bet was a bit difficult, as world-renowned “Drink the last beer in the fridge,” Matt Whitcomb had cleaned out this fine establishment’s ONLY beer. That’s right, the bowling alley in Falun not only had one beer for sale two nights ago, but they also somehow didn’t find it important to replenish this extensive supply for the next night’s clientele. For the safety of all of bowling alley proprietors reading this in the city of Philadelphia, NEVER try this, as it will likely cost you your life. What I found to be particularly appalling however, was the selfishness of the entire cross country coaching staff. Upon confronting Whitcomb and Grover with this in the lobby of the hotel, they confessed that they had in fact taken the last and only beer, but attempted to wiggle their way out of this transgression by explaining that they had been forced to split it three ways.

 

There are several troubling elements to this sad tale, most particularly the fact that it doesn’t seem like it would have been too much to ask for Whitcomb, Grover and Cork to anticipate our arrival the next night and do as we would have done and only drink 3/7′s of what was apparently the last beer in Falun, therein leaving some for us on the following evening. Seriously guys, I thought you were better than that. After all, can you think of anything more refreshing than going out with your crew and each enjoying 1.71 ounces of beer? I certainly cannot. This just doesn’t seem like too much to ask.

 

So, greatly handicapped by the complete lack of alcohol to help guide these decisions, we settled upon what, given the circumstances, proved to be quite ingenious: the loser had to wear his underpants home on the outside of his jeans. This video says it all. Well, almost all. I won’t ruin the surprise, but let’s just say that the match was decided on the cumulative score of two games. The eventual loser (both in life and in this match), had a SEVENTY pin lead over two other athletes, only to fold like Superman on laundry day in the final game. Enjoy.

 

– Fast Big Dog

Trouble viewing video? Click here.

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Germany’s Johannes Rydzek demonstrated his all-around strength in Saturday’s World Cup in Oslo, Norway, combining the second-best jump of the day with the sixth-best ski to arrive at the top of the podium in a time of 24:50.6. Norway’s Magnus Moan started 36 seconds back following a 12th-ranked jump, then blazed the 10-kilometer course in a second-best 24:15.2, but lost a photo finish to Rydzek, finishing just 0.6 seconds back. France’s Francois Braud finished third (+4.5), and Finland’s Iikka Herola was fourth (+10.0).

Taylor Fletcher was the top American, finishing 22nd (+1:42.6), followed by Billy Demong in 26th (+1:46.5), Bryan Fletcher in 36th (+2:43.7) and Nick Hendrickson in 47th (+5:13.8).

Results

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It was a nice day in Trondheim on Thursday.

“Sunny and warm and spring-like on the beautiful fjord” is how U.S. Ski Team member Bill Demong described it. But beautiful doesn’t always make for good skiing, though Demong complimented the race organizers on spending months “farming” and salting a 2-kilometer loop to use for the World Cup 10 k Nordic Combined event, creating a hard and fast course.

The veteran Demong charged from behind to finish 10th after jumping into 20th, he put down the fourth fastest cross country time of the day to move up ten spots. Teammate Taylor Fletcher posted the fastest time of the day, skiing 24:20.4 on the 10 k course, to finish 23rd after a 47th ranked jump, while Johannes Rydzek of Germany took the victory ahead of Norwegians Joergen Graabak and Magnus Moan.

“The course itself was very challenging right on the limit for climb in a 10km race with some hard corners and tough transitions,” Demong wrote in an email. Demong was satisfied with his jump, feeling that he has jumped consistently all season.

Demong finished 19.1 seconds behind Rydzek and less than nine seconds out of the top-5.

Bryan Fletcher (USA) did not start.

The athletes head to another individual 10k Gundersen World Cup on the legendary Holmenkollen hill in Oslo on Saturday.

Results

 

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Saturday’s Nordic combined team sprint was the last of its kind this winter on the World Cup and proved to be a duel between Germany and Norway. The two man sprint event combines two jumps with a lap each of 7.5 k.

Germany I represented by Johannes Rydzek and Eric Frenzel led after the jumping with total score of 227.2 points. Norway I, comprised of Jørgen Graabak and Håvard Klemetsen, were just 4.1 points behind for an eight second disadvantage.

Klemetsen won the day for Norway, chasing down Rydzek on the final lap to secure the victory.

Germany I was second, with France I (Francois Braud & Sebastien Lacroix) in third. United States I was 14th (Taylor Fletcher & Bryan Fletcher), while United States II was 19th (Adam Loomis & Nick Hendrickson).

Friday’s normal hill/10 k was won by Johannes Rydzek, with Japan’s Akito Watabe second by 7 seconds. Eric Frenzel was third, 20.6 seconds behind his teammate Rydzek.

Bryan Fletcher was 34th for the United States.

Results: Team sprint | Normal hill/10 k

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On the final day of competition at the first-ever Nordic Combined World Cup Triple in Seefeld, Austria, Eric Frenzel of Germany ended on the absolute highest note — winning his third-straight competition in as many days over the weekend for a €30,000-Euro ($40,600-dollar) grand prize.

Second after two competition jumps on Sunday, Frenzel started second in the cumulative pursuit-style 15-kilometer race later in the afternoon and quickly made up 10 seconds on Norway’s Haavard Klemetsen. Frenzel ended up winning in 38:26.2 minutes, 21.2 seconds ahead of  Klemetsen in second. Another Norwegian, Magnus Moan finished 29.1 back in third (+29.1).

Sunday’s runner-up Johannes Rydzek of Germany placed fourth  (+39.3) and American Bryan Fletcher improved from sixth on Friday and Saturday to fifth overall (+47.6).

Frenzel earned double World Cup points for the Triple crown, extending his lead in the World Cup standings over France’s Jason Lamy-Chappuis, who finished ninth on Sunday (+1:41.0).

Billy Demong of the U.S. placed 11th overall (+1:54.7), up from 12th on Saturday. After jumping to 22nd, he skied the third-fastest 15 k ((behind Norway’s Mikko Kokslien (seventh) and Italy’s Alessandro Pittin (10th), respectively)).

Results

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After launching himself to the lead at the first-ever Nordic Combined Triple at the World Cup in Seefeld, Austria, Germany’s Eric Frenzel followed up on Friday’s prologue victory with another win on Saturday, beating the field by 26.4 seconds in the 10-kilometer Gundersen in 24.49.9.

The overall World Cup leader, Frenzel jumped to first then skied the 19th fastest time to come out on top with one final day of competition remaining. Germany took the top two with Johannes Rydzek in second, and Norway’s Magnus Moan rose from fourth to third, 27.6 seconds behind Frenzel.

“It was anything but relaxing, but a really tough race,” Frenzel told Sportschau, according to a translation. ”Magnus very quickly become very caught up, so I did not expect. I knew that I can still put it back.”

Rydzek passed Moan at the last second before the finish.

“I tried to save … and I am sure been a little a**hole but I was able to fully pass through to the finish line,” Rydzek told Sportschau.

Norway’s Haavard Klemetsen placed fourth (+48.1), after jumping to second and skiing the 32nd-ranked time of 50 in the 10 k. Jason Lamy Chappuis of France rose from 10th to fifth (+56.5), and American Bryan Fletcher repeated his sixth-place season best from Friday, finishing 57.4 back on Saturday.

Eighth on Friday, Billy Demong of the U.S. placed 12th, skiing up from 20th in the jump with the eighth-fastest 10 k time. Norway’s Joergen Graabak improved from 42nd to 20th with the fastest ski time, and another Norwegian Mikko Kokslien skied the second-fastest time to end up 11th.

The three-day competition wraps up Sunday with two jumps and a 15 k pursuit-style race, which is handicapped by the first two day’s cumulative time back.

Results

Day 1 video

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On the opening day of the inaugural Nordic Combined Triple — a series of three competitions in three days in Seefeld, Austria — the overall World Cup leader, Germany’s Eric Frenzel came out with a fire in Friday’s shorter-than-usual comp, winning the 5-kilometer prologue in 12:37.4.

Second-best in the jump after Norway’s Haavard Klemetsten, the 25-year-old Frenzel raced to the victory, beating another Norwegian, Magnus Moan, by 8.4 seconds. Moan skied up from 12th to second overall with the fastest 5 k time, and another German, Tino Edelmann, held his position in third (+9.4) after ranking third in the jump.

“It’s been a good day,” Frenzel told the Associated Press. “My jump went well and I skied my own race. I lost some time [to Moan] but I am really pleased with this victory.”

Frenzel extended his lead in the World Cup standings by 127 points over Jason Lamy Chappuis of France, who finished ninth on Friday.

Klemetsen ended up fourth (+11.7) after his cross-country leg ranked 48th of 68 competitors. Germany’s Johannes Rydzek was fifth (+12.0), and Bryan Fletcher led the Americans with a season-best sixth (+25.2). Fletcher jumped to 11th, then skied the 16th-fastest time.

Japan’s Akito Watabe jumped to 14th and skied the 14th-fastest time to place seventh (+26.0), and Billy Demong of the U.S. notched eighth (+27.0), his best individual result of the season, after jumping 17th and skiing the 12th-fastest time. He edged Chappuis by 0.7 seconds, and Ilkka Herola of Finland placed 10th (+30.9).

The Triple continues Saturday with an individual Gundersen competition, narrowed down to the top 50 from Friday, followed by two jumps and a 15 k on Sunday.

Taylor Fletcher (USA) placed 56th on Friday after jumping to 64th and posting the fifth-fastest prologue time. Another American Brett Denney was 63rd and Canadian Wesley Savill finished 68th.

Results

U.S. NoCo Seefeld prep video

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Consistency was king for Germany II in today’s World Cup Team Sprint in Chaux-Neuve, France. Tino Edelmann and Fabian Riessle of Germany had a combined fourth-place jump rank and a combined fourth-place ski rank to finish first overall, with a team time of 34:32.8.

Norway II earned a second-place finish with lackluster jumping that top-notch skiing couldn’t quite make up. They had a combined jump rank that put them in 11th, but a fastest-of-the-day combined ski (33:58.2), good enough to get second-place overall, only 0.4 seconds behind Germany II. Germany I took third (+2.1) with seventh and third-place jumping and ski ranks, respectively.

United States I, composed of Bryan Fletcher and Bill Demong, earned a sixth-place jump score and a sixth-place ski score, putting them in seventh place overall (+5.0). US II, composed of Brett Denney and Taylor Fletcher, jumped their way to 20th place and skied to 10th, for an overall 16th-place finish (2:45.8).

Results

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American Billy Demong, back in Europe, and racing on the World Cup, placed 13th in the Chaux Neuve, France.

Demong jumped to a 35th place start position and then proceeded to turn in the 7th fastest ski time of the day to climb through the rankings.

He came in at the head of a chase pack of seven skiers, 1:17.4 behind winner Miko Kokslien of Norway.

The Norwegians swept the podium with Magnus Krog and Jørgen Graabak rounding out the top-3. Teammate Magnus Moan was 5th.

“Today was a decent day,” Demong said in a USSA press release. “Tough conditions on the hill with changing wind and I was a little disappointed with the jump especially after the good provisional yesterday, but the conditions on the course were some of my favorite: deep slushy snow and a hard track. So I really went out and tried to ski a well-paced race and was pretty excited that I felt as good as I did at the end, able to dig deep and push hard to the line!”

Bryan Fletcher, the only other American to race, finished 28th after a 38th place jump.

Racing continues on Sunday in France with a team sprint competition.

Results

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