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Germany’s Björn Kircheisen (bib 4) placed first in Friday’s Nordic Combined World Cup competition in Sapporo, Japan. Akito Watabe (bib 2) from Japan was second, and Norwegian Mikko Kokslien (bib 17) third. (Photo: FIS Nordic Combined/Twitter)

FIS Nordic Combined World Cup (Sapporo, Japan)

With a hop, skip and a jump (emphasis on the jump), the Nordic Combined World Cup made its way from PyeongChang, South Korea, to Sapporo, Japan, last week. Last Friday and Saturday, Feb. 10-11, the Sapporo nordic complex hosted two days of jumping and skiing.

Friday’s individual gundersen large hill/10 k began with a Japanese skier flying the furthest: Hisaki Nagamine jumped 136 meters and earned 135.9 points. Two Japanese teammates were second and third after the jumping: Akito Watabe was second with 129.1 points and Taihei Kato third with 125.5 points.

10 k later on the ski tracks and the skier who placed fourth in the jump and started 42 seconds back, Germany’s Björn Kircheisen, won the overall after completing the 10 k in 25:59.3. Watabe, who began 27 seconds behind Nagamine, placed second. In third was Norwegian Mikko Kokslien (+32.1). Kokslien placed 17th in the jump and started 1:40 back — he skied the second fastest ski time on the day.

Two Americans contested the event. Adam Loomis jumped to 38th and skied up to 31st (+3:59.2). Jasper Good was 35th after the jump and slipped a spot in the ski to place 36th overall (+4:35.7).

Japan’s Akito Watabe (c) celebrates his Day 2 win in Sapporo, Japan. Switzerland’s Tim Hug (l) placed second, and Germany’s Manual Faisst (r) placed third. (Photo: FIS Nordic Combined/Twitter)

Saturday’s competition was also an individual large hill/10 k up for grabs. Off the hill, again Nagamine set the benchmark after flying 138 meters and earning 128.8 points. German Manual Faisst placed second with 127.7 points, and Norwegian Håvard Klemetsen was third with 124.7 points.

The day’s ultimate winner, Watabe jumped to fourth, starting the ski race 25 seconds back. He finished in 25:55.9, after posting the fifth-fastest 10 k time of the day. Switzlerland’s Tim Hug, after jumping to fifth and starting 32 seconds behind Nagamine in the 10 k, placed second (+4.0). Faisst completed the podium in third (+12.3).

Good jumped to 33rd and finished 34th (+4:28.1). Loomis ranked 38th after the jump and skied up to 36th (+5:06.9).

The Sapporo World Cup was the last regular-season event before 2017 World Championships take place in Lahti, Finland, with nordic-combined competitions from Feb. 24-March 3.

Results: Day 1 | Day 2

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Germany's Eric Frenzel (c) celebrates his 2017 Seefeld Triple victory on Sunday in Seefeld, Austria. German Johannes Rydzek (l) placed second, Austrian Bernhard Gruber (r) was third. (Photo: FIS Nordic Combined Twitter account)

Germany’s Eric Frenzel (c) celebrates his 2017 Seefeld Triple victory on Sunday in Seefeld, Austria. German Johannes Rydzek (l) placed second, Austrian Bernhard Gruber (r) was third. (Photo: FIS Nordic Combined/Twitter)

FIS Nordic Combined World Cup (Seefeld, Austria)

Seefeld, Seefeld, Seefeld. Last Friday through Sunday, Seefeld, Austria hosted the eponymous “Seefeld Triple” with three days of consecutive Nordic Combined World Cup competitions.

Day 1

Day 1 featured an individual normal hill/5 k. The top jumping spot went to Austrian Bernhard Gruber, with Italian Samuel Costa second and Germany’s Eric Frenzel third. Starting 19 seconds back in the ski portion was fifth-place jumper from Germany Johannes Rydzek.

The 5 k was decided in a photo finish, with Rydzek out-toeing Frenzel for the win— both were given the official time of 12:00.2. Costa, who started 4 seconds after Gruber, finished third (+6.8).

Three Americans contested the day: U.S Nordic Combined’s Bryan Fletcher was the highest ranked in 31st (+1:16.7). He had been 35th after the jump, and started the 5 k race 1:24 behind Gruber. Teammates Ben Berend and Taylor Fletcher jumped to 31st and 43rd, respectively, and Berend finished 37th (+1:42.9), while Taylor skied to 40th (+1:54.3) with the 10th fastest ski time of the day.

Day 2

When you’re good, you’re good. That was the case on Day 2 in the individual normal hill/10 k. These names will sound familiar. Rydzek jumped the furthest, with Gruber and Costa tied for second. Yet the difference in distance jumped by the top three was so minimal, they began the ski simultaneously. Frenzel was fourth after the jump and started the ski 4 seconds back.

Rydzek, who completed the 10 k in 24:36.5 minutes, took the win over Frenzel in another photo finish by 0.1 seconds. Costa was third (+11.3), Gruber fourth (+20.8).

Bryan Fletcher was the top American in 18th (+1:43.5). He started off by jumping to 30th, then started the 10 k race 2:11 minutes out of first. Fletcher skied the eighth-fastest time en route to the top 20. Taylor Fletcher ended up 36th (+3:21.5) after skiing the fourth-fastest ski time, moving up from 43rd in the jump. Berend jumped to 37th and finished 42nd (+4:10.5).

Day 3

On tap for Sunday’s Day 3 of the Seefeld Triple was an individual normal hill/15 k. Only the top 30 skiers after Day 2 qualified to contest Sunday’s competition, and that included American Bryan Fletcher. He jumped to 23rd on Sunday and finished the long weekend in 26th overall (+5:52.2). Fletcher’s time back is partially due to a lackluster jump which had him starting the ski 4:18 behind first-place jumper Rydzek.

Running down the names who led after Sunday’s jump was an exercise in redundancy: Rydzek in first, Gruber in second, a new name — Italian Mario Seidl — in third, Frenzel in fourth, Costa in fifth.

This time, no photo finish was required as Frenzel took the victory after two consecutive second places. He finished in 37:32.2 and put 30.5 seconds on Rydzek by the finish. Frenzel had started 20 seconds behind Rydzek.

Rydzek finished second overall (+30.5), Gruber was 1:18.6 back in third, Seidl fourth (+1:19.1), and Costa (+2:18.2) fifth.

Seefeld Triple Results:

Friday’s normal hill/5 k

Saturday’s normal hill/10 k

Sunday’s normal hill/15 k

— Jason Albert

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FIS Nordic Combined World Cup (Val di Fiemme, Italy)

U.S. Nordic Combined’s Bryan Fletcher recorded his second-best result of the season on Sunday, the last of three days of World Cup competition in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

Fletcher jumped to 33rd on the large hill then raced the second-fastest 10 k of the day to finish 13th, 56.8 seconds behind the winner, Eric Frenzel of Germany.

Frenzel started Sunday with the best jump, which gave him an 18-second head start on Japan’s Go Yamamoto, who started second in the 10 k Gundersen start.

Frenzel went on to hold off his challengers for first, crossing the finish in 27:21.7 minutes, while German teammate Johannes Rydzek finished 30.2 seconds later in second. One second behind Rydzek, Japan’s Akito Watabe placed third (+31.2) after starting 30 seconds back in third. Rydzek raced up from 16th and 1:26 back at the start, while Yamamoto dropped to 38th (+3:44.1) at the finish.

Taylor Fletcher finished 30th (+2:36.1) on Sunday, after jumping to 46th, Ben Loomis placed 39th (+4:00.8), and Ben Berend 40th (+4:13.0) for the U.S.

On Saturday, the U.S. team of Bryan and Taylor Fletcher finished eighth in the 2 x 7.5 k team event, 40 seconds behind the Norwegian winners, Espen Andersen and Jørgen Grabaak. The Americans ranked 16th after the jumping portion and clocked the fastest ski time to chip away at a 1:41 starting deficit.

Meanwhile, Berend and Loomis jumped to 10th and were slated to start the cross-country race 44 seconds behind the German leaders (Terence Weber and Fabian Rießle, first after the jump). But the U.S. second team did not start the 2 x 7.5 k race.

Norway’s Andersen and Grabaak ranked second after the jump and combined for the seventh-fastest ski time to finish in 35:02.4. They edged the Czech Republic’s Tomas Portyk and Miroslav Dvorak by 0.3 seconds for the win, and Italy’s Samuel Costa and Alessandro Pittin raced up from 11th to third, just 0.9 seconds behind the winners.

Germany finished off the podium in fifth (+11.6), behind Finland’s Eero Hirvonen and Ilkka Herola in fourth (+2.7).

To start the long weekend, Frenzel won the individual large hill/10 k on Friday, and just like Sunday, Rydzek placed second. Frenzel jumped to second and started Friday’s cross-country race 26 seconds behind Austria’s Mario Seidl, who led after the jump. Frenzel secured his first win of the weekend in 29:19.4, Rydzek followed 24.2 seconds later in second place, and Norway’s Magnus Moan was third (+25.9). Rydzek posted the fastest course time after starting 1:45 back in 25th, and Moan started just two seconds ahead of him in 23rd. Seidl ended up 11th (+42.3).

Taylor Fletcher led the U.S. in 21st (+1:41.4), skiing the fourth-fastest 10 k to pick off 25 places, after starting 46th and nearly 3 minutes back. No other Americans competed on Day 1 in Val di Fiemme.

The Nordic Combined World Cup is headed to Chaux-Neuve, France, for the next competitions on Saturday and Sunday.

Results:

Friday’s individual large hill/10 k

Saturday’s 2 x 7.5 k team event

Sunday’s individual large hill/10 k

***

FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup (Kuusamo, Finland)

Meanwhile, at the Nordic Combined Continental Cup in Kuusamo, better known a Ruka, Finland, the U.S. picked up a couple of top 10-results, with Adam Loomis placing seventh on Sunday and Jasper Good ninth on Saturday.

In Saturday’s individual large hill/10 k, Good jumped to seventh and started the cross-country race 1:03 minutes behind the jump leader, Norway’s Harald Johnas Riiber. Three Austrians proceeded to sweep the podium, with Lukas Greiderer winning in 27:51.3, Martin Fritz placing second (+26.5), and Harald Lemmerer third (+43.2), after starting in sixth, eighth and 17th, respectively.

Riiber slipped to sixth (+1:06.3), and Good finished ninth (+1:51.8) for the American’s first individual  Continental Cup top 10.

Also for the U.S. on Saturday, Stephen Schumann finished 18th (+2:57.1) for his first individual top 20, Loomis 30th (+4:35.4), and Grant Andrews 39th (+6:39.5).

On Sunday in another large hill/10 k, Loomis raced up from 14th in the jump to seventh at the finish, 1:27.5 behind the winner, Norway’s Sindre Ure Søtvik. Loomis started the ski race 3:30 behind the jump leader, Japan’s Hisaki Nagamine, while Søtvik started 32 seconds back in second and secured the win in 28:44.9.

Austria took second and third with Tomaz Druml (+16.4) and Fritz (+52.3), respectively, after Druml started sixth and Fritz jumped to fifth.

For Loomis, 24, it was his first Continental Cup top 10 in five years and his fourth-career individual podium.

Schumman achieved another personal best of 13th on Sunday (for his second top 20 of the weekend and his career), finishing 2:15.9 behind the winner. Good followed him closely in 14th (+2:17.7) and Andrews finished 36th (+5:38.8) to close out the weekend.

Next weekend, Otepää, Estonia, will host the NoCo Continental Cup with two individual normal hill/10 k competitions.

Results: Saturday | Sunday

Getting ready to compete on this mammoth this weekend! #skijumping #ruka #fisnoco #usanordic #hshive PC: @skiloomis

A photo posted by Jasper Good (@jaspergoody) on

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(Press release)

PARK CITY, UT (Jan. 13, 2017) – Six nordic combined skiers have been named to the team that will represent the USA at the International Ski Federation’s 2017 USANA Nordic Junior World Ski Championships Jan. 30-Feb. 5 at the Utah Olympic Park and Soldier Hollow Nordic Center. It’s the first time the global junior event has been held in the USA since 1986 in Lake Placid.

The team was named by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association, in collaboration with USA Nordic, following the completion of trials last month and final international events. Selection was based on results of international Continental Cup competitions along with three trials events with jumps at Steamboat Springs, CO and Park City, UT.

The team blends some seasoned veterans with a host of newcomers to international competition.

The team will be led by Ben Loomis (Eau Claire, WI) of the Flying Eagles Ski Club. Loomis was the silver medalist at the Youth Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway last February and is competing regularly on the World Cup tour. He will be joined by Stephen Schumann (Park City, UT) of Park City Nordic Ski Club. Schumann qualified through Continental Cup points scored in Klingenthal, Germany in December. He and Loomis each won one of the final two trials events in Park City in late December. Also on the team is two-time Junior Worlds veteran Koby Vargas (Steamboat Springs, CO) of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

Among the newcomers to Junior Worlds will be Grant Andrews (Steamboat Springs, CO) of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. Andrews had his first international experience last season finishing fourth and 11th in a youth Nordic combined event in Norway. It will be the first international event for both Tucker Hoefler (Park City, UT) of the Park City Nordic Ski Club as well as Elijah Vargas (Steamboat Springs, CO) of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club.

“It is a great opportunity for these athletes to be able to compete at home against such a strong international field,” said Coach Martin Bayer. “We have some great experience on this team, especially with Ben Loomis who showed at the Youth Olympic Games last season that he can compete with the best in the world.”

The first competition day is Tuesday, January 31 with individual 10k event. The 4x5k team event is Thursday, Feb. 2 with the final 5k individual event on Saturday, Feb. 4. All jumping is on the HS100m Olympic jump at the Utah Olympic Park with cross country on the Olympic Trails at Soldier Hollow.

2017 USA JUNIOR NORDIC WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM

(Name, hometown, USSA club, birthdate, age at start of championships)

  • Grant Andrews, Steamboat Springs, CO (Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club) 12/3/1997 (19)
  • Tucker Hoefler, Park City, UT (Park City Nordic Ski Club) 9/12/1998 (18)
  • Ben Loomis, Eau Claire, WI (Flying Eagles Ski Club) 6/9/1998 (18) * ***
  • Stephen Schumann, Park City, UT (Park City Nordic Ski Club) 3/14/2000 (16)
  • Elijah Vargas, Steamboat Springs CO (Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club) 8/5/2000 (16)
  • Koby Vargas, Steamboat Springs, CO (Park City Nordic Ski Club) 5/31/1998 (18)  * **

* Member of 2016 Junior Worlds team


** Member of 2015 Junior Worlds team

*** Member of 2016 Youth Olympic Games team

2017 USANA FIS NORDIC JUNIOR WORLD SKI CHAMPIONSHIPS

Monday, January 30

7:00 p.m. Opening Ceremony (Zermatt Resort, Midway)

Tuesday, January 31

9:00 a.m. Nordic combined HS100m jump (Utah Olympic Park)
3:30 p.m Nordic combined 10k (Soldier Hollow)

Wednesday, February 1

7:00 p.m. Medal ceremony (Ice Castles, Homestead Resort, Midway)

Thursday, February 2

9:00 a.m. Nordic combined HS100m team jump (Utah Olympic Park)
3:30 p.m. Nordic combined team 4x5k (Soldier Hollow)

Friday, February 3

7:00 p.m. Medal ceremony (Ice Castles, Homestead Resort, Midway)

Saturday, February 4

9:00 a.m. Nordic combined HS100m jump (Utah Olympic Park)
3:30 p.m. Nordic combined 5k (Soldier Hollow)

Sunday, February 5

6:30 p.m. Closing Ceremony and Medals Ceremony (Zermatt Resort, Midway)

TOP PAST JUNIOR WORLDS FINISHES FOR USA

1 – Todd Lodwick – 1996 Asiago, Italy
2 – Alex Glueck – 2002 Schonach, Germany
3 – Nathan Gerhart – 2002 Schonach Germany
5 – Eric Camerota – 2004 Stryn, Norway

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The leaders are shoulder to shoulder heading into the final lap at the L.L.Bean U.S. Nordic Combined Championships. (USSA-Tom Kelly)

Bryan Fletcher (c) leads Taylor Fletcher (l) and Ben Berend heading into the final lap of the L.L.Bean U.S. Nordic Combined Championship on Saturday at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah. (Photo: USSA/Tom Kelly)

(Press release)

MIDWAY, Utah (July 30, 2016) – Taylor Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) broke away from the pack with a kilometer remaining to take his first national title at the L.L.Bean U.S. Nordic Combined Championship at Soldier Hollow. Brother Bryan Fletcher took silver with Ben Berend (Steamboat Springs, CO) earning bronze after leading the jump.

In the morning HS134 meter jump at the Utah Olympic Park, Berend threw down the gauntlet with a towering 125.0 meter jump to take a 17 second lead over Ben Loomis (Eau Claire, WI) of the Flying Eagles Ski Club who went 122.5 meters. Bryan Fletcher found himself 26 seconds back, with Adam Loomis (Eau Claire, WI) 52 seconds out, two seconds ahead of Taylor Fletcher.

“This is, by far, some of the best jumping we’ve had as a team,” Taylor said. “I had a rough trial and was able to get that away. [Jumping Coach] Nick [Huber] told me to just go for it and be aggressive. I was extremely happy to put together a good jump for the competition round. That makes my job easier on the cross country course.”

Head Coach Dave Jarrett echoed the team strength on the jumps. “It was good to see everyone jumping pretty well. For us to be relatively close to the special jumpers is a good sign for July.”

Young Stephen Schumann (Park City, UT) was a strong sixth. Jasper Good (Steamboat Springs, CO) had trouble with his jump and stood seventh, a minute, 49 seconds behind Berend.

Heading into the evening 10k cross country leg at Soldier Hollow, Taylor knew he had to act quickly to get ahead of Adam Loomis. The four-lap course featured the longer laps first and last, with shorter legs in the middle. Temperatures moderated a bit, but it was still a hot and steamy Utah evening on the grueling Olympic course.

“I’ve been skiing really strong all summer,” Taylor said. “I knew if I was fresher than the other guys I could put some time on the field on Hermod’s. I paid the price a little bit early on. When I caught Bryan and Ben I sat in a little bit — I hate to do that, but that’s how you win races.”

Taylor went to work on Adam Loomis on lap one, putting in a gap and working his way up to Bryan still 25 seconds ahead. Berend, meanwhile, set a strong pace but knew the Fletchers were coming. By mid race, the threesome had packed up and were screaming around the corners and staying evening on the uphills. Eventually, they all knew that the legendary Hermod’s would make it or break it.

On the final lap, the Fletcher brothers broke away from Berend. Now it was just the two of them. On the final climb of Hermod’s, Taylor put on the gas and gapped his older brother. Coming into the finish, he jubilantly threw up his hands in victory – earning a first-ever national title.

“It’s nice to have that title finally,” he said. “The last few years I’ve been second or third, it’s a lot nicer to be on the top. I’m just ecstatic to say I’m national champion for the first time.”

Ben Berend paved the way, leading in the morning jump. (USSA-Tom Kelly)

Ben Berend paved the way, leading the morning jump at the 2016 U.S. Nordic Combined Championship at Utah Olympic Park in Park City, Utah. (Photo: USSA/Tom Kelly)

The event was a milestone, too, for Berend. “It was truly an incredible day,” he said. “I was really confident going into the jumping competition as that has always been my strength. So when I won the jumping, that’s when the nerves really set in.”

An established jumper, cross-country has been a big training focus for the Steamboat Springs native. “Ben had a great race,” Jarrett said. “He managed the cross-country race well. He’s been working hard and deserves a good performance.”

“This spring I sat down with many of my leaders such as Dave Jarrett, Jon Schafer [High Performance Director] and Dave Cieslowski [Physical Therapist]. Between all these amazing people I got enough info to really formulate a plan to improve. It seemed like in the race, everything I’ve been working on just came together.”

Berend went out hard, turning a strong first lap time. He held his own through the midway point before he heard the Fletchers coming on hard.

“Going into the last hill I was still right with them,” Berend said. “For a slight moment a thought crossed into my mind, ‘I’m going to try and beat these guys.’ Pretty much at that second, the Bryan and Taylor absolutely took off and left me limping along in their dust. I feel like that result was a major barrier that I needed to break down. It was truly a dream come true to stand on that podium with my mentors and best friends.”

The L.L.Bean U.S. Nordic Combined Championships was the kickoff to what will be a busy August for the team. USA Nordic Sport is sending the entire team to Europe for training and Grand Prix competition. It’s a vital step in an important World Championship season.

RESULTS
L.L.Bean U.S. Nordic Combined Championship
Utah Olympic Park – Soldier Hollow

Jumping Results

Official Final Results

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Bryan Fletcher racing to 36th at last weekend's Nordic Combined World Cup in Lahti, Finland. On Tuesday, he finished 12th in Kuopio, Finland. (Photo: JoJo Baldus)

Bryan Fletcher racing to 36th at last weekend’s Nordic Combined World Cup in Lahti, Finland. On Tuesday, he finished 12th in Kuopio, Finland. (Photo: JoJo Baldus)

On Tuesday, Nordic Combined filled what had been a 15-year void in Kuopio, Finland — it’s been that long since the venue hosted a World Cup event. The large hill/10 k Gundersen was a one-day affair slotted in between last weekend’s racing in Lahti, Finland, and this upcoming weekend’s three-day series in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

Off the 127-meter jump, Japan’s Akito Watabe took the top jumping position, scoring 127.7 points. Håvard Klemetsen from Norway followed in second with 125.7 points, and German Manuel Faisst jumped to third with 121.2 points.

Improving on his jumping, U.S. Nordic Combined’s Bryan Fletcher scored 102 points, for 18th. Teammate Ben Berend jumped to 29th (93.5 points), and Taylor Fletcher 34th (86.2 points).

From the start, the ski race featured Watabe getting reeled in by former World Champion, German Johannes Rydzek. Having settled for fifth in the jump, and starting 34 seconds behind Watabe, Rydzek systematically closed the time gap around halfway through the ski. It was a Watabe-Rydzek sprint for the win, with Ryzdek taking the victory in 23:59.6.

Watabe placed second (+6.2), and Austria’s Wilhelm Denifl placed third (+35.4). World Cup overall leader, Eric Frenzel of Germany, placed seventh (+40.9).

Bryan Fletcher skied the second fastest time of the day, moving up six spots after the jump to finish 12th overall (+43.8). Taylor, with the fourth-fastest ski time, placed 25th (+156.5) while Berend finished 36th.

In an USSA press release, Bryan Fletcher said he was satisfied with his jump, which positioned him toward the front of the pack.

“Kuopio was a close one,” Bryan Fletcher said. “I jumped a lot better than last weekend and I was able to put myself in the race. The course was narrow and the pack was big, which made it a very tactical race. Coming into the final kilometers I had the legs to go but not the room to go. Ultimately it came down to a tough sprint for the line. After last weekend I am happy to be 12th, but I was hoping for a little more.”

Racing continues Friday in Val di Fiemme, Italy, before the final World Cup in Schonach, Germany, March 4-6.

Jumping results | Final results

— Jason Albert

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(Note: This post has been updated to include quotes from Bryan Fletcher.)

On Wednesday’s Nordic Combined World Cup round in Trondheim, Norway, Overall World Cup leader, Germany’s Eric Frenzel, jumped and skied himself into the record books. The day’s large hill/10 k Gundersen start, was the second of two consecutive days of races in Trondheim. On day one, Frenzel placed third overall.

With his 29th World Cup victory on Wednesday, Frenzel becomes the second-winningest Nordic Combined World Cup skier. He now has one more win than his jumping coach, compatriot Ronny Ackerman. Finnish skier Hannu Manninen sits in first for most overall wins, with 48 victories.

Skiers began the day flying off Trondheim’s 140-meter large hill. Japan’s Akito Watabe, second overall on the Nordic Combined World Cup, maintained his jumping prowess by placing first off the hill. He scored 137.2 points, while in second place, Frenzel scored 130.5. Norway’s Håvard Klemetsen jumped to third, with 127.4 points.

The U.S. Nordic Combined Team had two athletes in the competition. Bryan Fletcher jumped to 30th, brother Taylor Fletcher, was tied for 40th.

Watabe began the 10 k ski with a 27-second advantage on Frenzel. That margin proved futile for the Japanese star. Around 6 k, Frenzel had reeled Watabe in. Frenzel crossed the finish line in 24:28.5. Watabe, skiing to second, finished 15.9 seconds back. Norway’s Jørgen Graabak skied to third overall (+57.8), after flying to 11th on his jump.

Bryan Fletcher, starting in 30th place, 2:55 behind Watabe, skied the eighth-fastest ski time, moving up to 17th overall (+2:03.1). Taylor, starting in bib 40, moved up thirteen spots, to 27th overall (+2:35.5). He skied the seventh-fastest ski time.

In an email, Bryan Fletcher wrote he hopes for a strong surge towards the end of the season. “I do believe I am not far away from being in the top 10 consistently.”

Bryan remains a force on the ski side of the NoCo equation. “Usually I am one of the fastest guys on the circuit.  Today I was 8th fastest, yesterday I was 5th fastest. Oslo I was 9th and in Seefeld, I was top 3 all three days with a fastest time on the 3rd day,” he wrote.

As a team, although they have had breakthrough moments, they have not experienced the type of success off the jumping hill  as they have on the skate skis. Bryan explained he’s looking to get a bit more distance from his jumps to compliment his already world class skiing speed.

“Jumping is a tough sport and no matter how good you are there is always something to fine tune,” Bryan wrote.  “Commonly we speak a lot about getting the hips moving upwards while keeping the chest low in order to keep speed over the knoll. But that is only a small part of jumping.  Honestly you could spend an entire year speaking to coaches, standing on the coaches stand, and talking to the athletes and you would only just start to understand what makes a good jump versus a bad one.  Obviously there is more than one style of good jumping and when it works, it works, and when it doesn’t, it doesn’t.

“The last 3 years we have focused more and more on jumping but the one thing we do have dialed is the XC racing.”

Nordic Combined racing continues next week on Feb. 19 in Lahti, Finland.

Jumping Results | Overall results

 

— Jason Albert

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This past weekend on Saturday, Feb. 6, during the same foggy conditions in which the men’s Holmenkollen cross-country 50 k classic was run, the Nordic Combined World Cup sent skiers off of Holmenkollen’s 134-meter large hill for the jumping portion of an individual gundersen 10 k.

Norway’s Jarl Magnus Riiber won the event. Japan’s Akito Watabe placed second, and overall Nordic Combined World Cup leader, Germany’s Eric Frenzel, raced to third.

The U.S. had two athletes in the points: Bryan Fletcher skied to 20th, while his brother, Taylor Fletcher, placed 30th. Teammate Adam Loomis finished 43rd.

In a video on FIS, jumpers flying off the large hill are seen first as gray-tone silhouettes, then at the last second, as spandex-clad jumpers as they near the landing zone in Holmenkollen’s pea-soup visibility.

The jumping proved decisive. With the jump heading off the large hill, the time differences at the start of the skiing portion were expected to be possibly insurmountable.

In an email, Bryan Fletcher explained that the large hill gives a slight advantage to those best at jumping. With longer flight potential, there’s also the potential for greater differences in the distances jumped, and therefore, points earned. “The new large hill points are making the competitions very spread out and weighted a little more on the jumping,” he wrote.

In another post-race email, Taylor Fletcher shared those sentiments. “The jumping is now much harder on the larger hill as it tips the cap to the strong jumpers much more than before.”

As was expected, big gaps were earned from those performing best on the large hill.

Riiber won the jump, earning 135.1 points, and a whopping 1:10 advantage at the start of the 10 k ski over Watabe and Frenzel, who scored 117.7 and 117.5 points, respectively. Bryan jumped to 20th, starting the ski 2:31 back, Loomis was 38th off the hill, 3:56 back, and Taylor 45th after the jump, and starting 4:25 after jump winner Riiber.

During the ski portion, no one was able to close the gap on Riiber. He crossed the line first in 24:36. Watabe did reel Riiber in a bit closer, but Riiber’s 1:10 head start proved too big. Watabe, who skied to second overall, was 16.6 seconds back at the finish. Frenzel, who started with Watabe, couldn’t match the Japanese skier’s pace. He placed third (+28.2).

Bryan skied the ninth fastest ski time on the day and skied up five spots  — starting in 20th and finishing 15th. He leaves Holmenkollen’s storied venue knowing he is trending towards the positive when it comes to his jumping.

“Oslo was an awesome event. I know it may have seemed a little boring on the tv with all the fog but it was a nice comp with good winds in tough conditions.  Personally I was happy with my jumping in the comp. Another step in the right direction for me and I am continuing to work with these positive steps.  The XC was tough, my legs were still a bit heavy from the last weekends races and I felt it in the race.”

In fact, Bryan has stood atop the podium here before. In 2012, he won the World Cup final there, which included a large hill/10 k competition.

“Competing in Oslo is always special. Having the memories of winning there will always stay with me for the rest of my life.  Coming back each year I get a boost of energy thinking about the good memories I have had there,” Bryan wrote. “This week we have Trondheim comps and hopefully I can carry the recent momentum into tomorrows and the next day’s events. This is another hard course and a large hill so I expect jumping to be very important to getting results.”

Of the two brothers, Taylor posted the faster ski leg with the third fastest-time of the day, finishing in 30th (+2:55.9). Post-ski, he had climbed a full 15 spots on the leaderboard, after starting the ski race in 45th.

Taylor wrote that the Oslo competitions are always something to look forward to.

“Holmenkollen is something special for sure. I have been there a couple times now, and each time I go, I can’t wait to go back. The venue provides a special setting for competition. I know there is no other venue that will gather as many people that are as passionate about nordic sports as in Oslo. Over the years, our team has had some success there, which makes it memorable. This year was much harder for me as I was struggling with the jumping portion of  nordic combined. That being said, Even when I am not in a position to be on the podium, I still race as hard as possible as the fans make you feel like you’re possibly winning the race.”

Nordic Combined World Cup racing continued Tuesday with a large hill/10 k competition in Trondheim, Norway.

There, Bryan improved from 26th in the jump to 14th overall, 1:14 behind Norwegian winner Jørgen Graabak. Taylor placed 28th (+2:46.1) after jumping to 49th on the 140-meter large hill in Trondheim, once again posting the third-fastest 10 k time. Loomis was 47th in the jump and finished in the same spot, 47th (+4:22.9).

“14th place today 26th after jumping & raced 5th fastest time,” Bryan tweeted after Tuesday’s competition. “Take two in Trondheim tomorrow!”

Graabak won the first day of competition in Trondheim after jumping to eighth and crossing the line first in 24:26.2. Frenzel finished just 5.1 seconds back in second place after jumping to seventh, and starting 7 seconds ahead of Graabak. The jump leader with a 16-second head start, Riiber held onto podium in third (+19.7).

Holmenkollen: Jumping results | Overall results

Trondheim: Tuesday’s jump | Overall results

— Jason Albert

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Well-rested from a month off of competition, nordic-combined athletes returned to the World Cup race scene this past weekend in Chaux-Neuve, France.

Saturday saw Germany’s Eric Frenzel take the overall individual hill/10-kilometer race win in a time of 21:26.0. Austrian skier Bernhard Gruber finished in second, (+4.7) and Japan’s Akito Watabe placed third (+6.5).

“It was a very hard race,” said Frenzel in an interview with German broadcaster ARD, “I had to attack early, I guess that wore out my opponents.”

Americans Bryan Fletcher and Taylor Fletcher finished the first day of racing in 19th and 20th, respectively, though Taylor posted the fastest time for the 10-kilometer cross country event, while Bryan’s time was third fastest.

The two U.S. Ski Team members started the cross-country race within 12 seconds of each other. Bryan Fletcher, who jumped to 29th in the morning, cruised out of the 10 k start gate 1:46 after the jump leader Watabe. About a quarter of a minute later, Taylor Fletcher, who jumped to 30th earlier that morning, got on course 1:58 after Watabe. 

Halfway through the five-lap 2 k loop, Taylor caught up to his American teammate and the two raced together to the finish, with Bryan leading most of the way.

“I felt strong and skied a smart race especially considering I was in the front quite a lot during the race pulling a strong group,” said Bryan Fletcher in a USSA press release.

Day 2 of racing on Sunday brought another German to the top of the podium. This time, however, it was Fabian Rießle for the overall win by 2.3 seconds, clocking in at 21:20.5 ahead of teammate Frenzel.

“Before the race I thought about what I would do if the situation arrived [to be in a lead group],” said Rießle in an interview with ARD, “I planned for two different variants. Because I felt very good at the end, I decided on trying a long [escape], because I did not want to get into a finish sprint. Nice that it worked out,” he added.

Frenzel finished Sunday in second overall, while Watabe placed third, 4.1 seconds behind Rießle’s winning mark.

For the Americans, Taylor raced to 21st overall on Sunday, 1:12.2 seconds behind Rießle, while teammate Bryan finished the day in 25th (+1:29.6).

Sunday morning, Taylor jumped to 32nd, putting him on course 1:54 seconds after the jump leader, Magnus Jari-Riiber of Norway. The time deficit didn’t slow the 23-year-old down and once again Taylor proved he was one of the speediest skiers on course, recording the second-fastest time of the day.

Starting just six seconds behind Taylor in the 10 k event was Bryan, who jumped to 38th in the morning, which put him on course 2:01 seconds after Jari-Riiber. Bryan also managed to make up time in the cross-country race, recording the fourth-fastest 10 k time of the day.

Results: Day 1 | Day 2

— Gabby Naranja / Harald Zimmer contributed

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The first period of nordic combined World Cups wrapped up in Ramsau am Dachstein, Austria, this weekend, with jumping on the HS 98 hill.

In Saturday’s normal hill 10 k, Norway’s Magnus Moan took the win in a photo finish with teammate Magnus Krog. Jarl Magnus Riiber, also of Norway, won the jumping round to start with a lead of 37 seconds over Akito Watabe of Japan, and was able to parlay that into third place and his first World Cup podium in a 10 k.

Bryan Fletcher and Taylor Fletcher of the United States skied up to 26th (+52.7) and 32nd (+1:09.7) after the jumping round, and Adam Loomis placed 30th (+2:02.3).

On Sunday, the field negotiated the same format over again but with very different results: it was Eric Frenzel who took this win, 10.2 seconds ahead of Riiber who had again had the best jumping round of the day. Manuel Faisst of Germany rounded out the podium, just a tenth of a second behind Riiber.

“I am proud this weekend and am looking forward to the rest of the season,” Riiber, an 18-year-old who seems to have just had his big breakthrough, told Norwegian daily Aftenposten.

Taylor Fletcher placed 20th (+49.2) and Bryan Fletcher 26th (+59.1), with Loomis again in 40th (+2:00.5).

“When it rains, it pours!” Bryan Fletcher tweeted after the race. “Fell in the race in Lillehammer, fell in Ramsau, broken pole today. What gives? Be gone 2015. Hello 2016!”

Taylor and Bryan now sit 23rd and 24th in the World Cup standings, even after Taylor Fletcher flew back to the U.S. to compete in the Continental Cup competitions in Utah last weekend before returning to Europe for the World Cup. His effort netted the U.S. team an additional World Cup quota spot.

The World Cup is still looking good for Norway. On top of Riiber’s breakthrough, Krog now leads the World Cup standings by eight points over Fabian Riessle of Germany. Watabe is in third and Frenzel in fourth.

But there’s bad news for every team: the next competitions, slated to be held in Klingenthal, Germany, on January second and third, have been canceled due to lack of snow in central Europe. It’s unlikely that another venue can step up to fill the gap in time, meaning that the next World Cups will be the following weekend in Schonach, Germany.

After competitions in the opening weekend in Ruka, Finland, were canceled due to dangerous wind conditions, this year’s competition season will be short.

Saturday Results

Sunday Results

World Cup Standings

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