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Taylor Fletcher Captures First National Title at SoHo: ‘I’m just ecstatic’

Monday, August 1st, 2016
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

Period I World Cup Wraps in Ramsau with Good Signs for Norway

Monday, December 21st, 2015

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

Taylor Fletcher Races Up from 42nd to 13th in Lillehammer

Monday, December 7th, 2015

Even with the unsettled winds in Lillehammer, Norway, on Sunday, the Nordic Combined World Cup sent skiers off the normal hill for its second event of the season.

Norway’s Magnus Krog won the individual normal-hill/10 k competition in 25:51.8. Krog jumped to 15th and skied the sixth-fastest time of the day for his second career World Cup win. Saturday’s winner, Austrian Fabian Rießle, took second (+1.0), while Austrian Lukas Klapfer placed third (+ 1.9) .

For the U.S. Nordic Combined Team, there were some high and low points. All four U.S. athletes struggled on the jumping hill. Taylor Fletcher posted a team best 42nd and ended up 13th, Bryan Fletcher jumped to 45th and placed 30th, Adam Loomis jumped to 55th and finished 43rd, Jasper Good jumped to 48th and placed 49th.

“It was tricky jumping this morning for sure,” U.S. head coach Dave Jarrett said in a USSA press release. “Bryan was unlucky as the conditions when he was set to go were too good and they took him off the bar twice. When he finally got the green the conditions were significantly worse. He had a pretty good jump nonetheless, but the speed was set for headwind … Taylor on the other hand, should have done more with his jump. He had a great race though and was close to the front but ran out of real estate.”

Yet, the team leaves Lillehammer with a bit of skiing confidence. Although Taylor Fletcher didn’t maximize his jumping opportunity, he skied the fastest 10 k and placed 13th overall.

“I was a lot closer timewise to the front compared to [Saturday], but also I skied a much more paced race!” Fletcher said in the press release. “I was really happy to have the fastest time by a fair amount but I am hungry for way more! I know my good jumps are good enough to put me in the fight for the win!”

Brian Fletcher also skied a top fifteen time, setting the 13th fastest ski time on the day, 33 seconds behind Krog.

Behind Fletcher (+33.0), Bryan finished 1:38.5 back in 30th, Loomis was 3:04.4 off the pace, followed Good (+3:43.8).

The Nordic Combined World Cup tour now takes a two week break with the next competition beginning Dec. 19th, in Ramsau, Austria.

Results

B. Fletcher 11th; World Cup Finally Gets Off Ground (Sort of) in Lillehammer

Saturday, December 5th, 2015
Today’s large-hill Gundersen 10-kilometer competition in Lillehammer, Norway, was the first Nordic Combined World Cup event of the season. Last weekend’s World Cup in Kuusamo, Finland — what would have been the season-opening competitions — were canceled due to high winds.

Saturday’s scheduled competition was also affected by wind: the morning’s team event was scratched due to high winds and replaced with an individual competition.

Unable to jump on Saturday, race officials made a quick decision to move forward with the competition. They decided to use results from Friday’s provisional jump to determine Saturday’s start order for the 10 k cross-country race.

Winning his first ever Nordic Combined World Cup race was Germany’s Fabian Rießle, a 2014 Olympic individual bronze medalist, who won Saturday’s competition in 25:22.4. The podium was rounded out by second-place finisher, Japan’s Akito Watabe (+12.5), followed by Ilkka Herola of Finland in third (+15.2).

In the post-race press conference, Rießle was asked how he felt after his first victory. “It feels totally, I don’t know, so cool,” he said.

The top American, Bryan Fletcher placed 11th (+1:11.2 ) after jumping to 15th in the provisional round and starting in that position. He started 47 seconds back from Poland’s Szczepan Kupczak, the top jumper from the practice round.

“When today’s jump was cancelled, I was excited,” Fletcher wrote in an email. “I knew I was in a good position and had an opportunity for a strong result. Honestly I was thinking I could do a little better than 11th, but tough snow conditions and strong skiers around me, made it difficult to move up any further.”

Typically strong on the hill, Fletcher focused on further improving his jumping this summer in order to position himself near the front of the cross-country race.

“I am happy to see some improvement in my jumping thus far,” he wrote. “… I hope to continue this progress over the season. So needless to say I won’t be hanging my hat on that performance alone.”

In a USSA press release, U.S. head coach Dave Jarrett called it a “pretty good start” for the team.

“We always have high hopes for the cross country race. It was a good race, but today the front was so fast that it was hard for Bryan’s group to close,” he said. “We didn’t have the fastest cross country times today but we know we can ski with anyone. Both Bryan and Taylor have been jumping pretty well and we are psyched for another chance tomorrow.”

Also for the U.S., Taylor Fletcher placed 26th (+2:11.5) and skied the 12th fastest cross-country time, Adam Loomis placed 37th (+3:15.6), and Jasper Good was 51st (+6:50) in his World Cup debut.

Another individual event will be held Sunday, with jumping on the normal hill due to predicted high winds, followed by a 10 k race.

“Tomorrow will be another opportunity,” Fletcher wrote. “I am excited to have another chance to improve upon today, so we will see how it goes.”

— Jason Albert and Alex Kochon contributed reporting

Moan Wins in Trondheim; Taylor Fletcher Skis from 44th to 14th (with Video)

Friday, March 13th, 2015

Norway’s Magnus Moan overcame a 30-second starting deficit to take the lead two kilometers into Thursday’s 10-kilometer individual race and win his 24th career World Cup in Trondheim, Norway.

Moan jumped to 10th on the large hill and posted the fourth-fastest ski time en route to the win in 24:22.9. He bested Germany’s Fabian Riessle, who started eighth and finished second, by 13.3 seconds and Italy’s Alessandro Pittin, who jumped to 21st and skied the third-fastest 10 k for third, by 18.2 seconds.

With the Overall World Cup title under wraps, Eric Frenzel of Germany led after the jump and ended up 10th (+42.9).

Taylor Fletcher of the U.S. skied up from 44th and 2:04 back to 14th (+1:14.5) with the fastest ski time.

“I was so close to having excellent day,” Fletcher tweeted on Thursday. “I was a little to [sic] aggressive after the takeoff that killed the jump, but I had a hell of a xc race!”

His brother Bryan Fletcher jumped to 41st and placed 25th (+1:37.9) with the seventh-fastest ski time. The third American, Adam Loomis finished 31st (+2:04) after ranking 45th in the jump and 12th in the 10 k.

The Nordic Combined World Cup concludes Saturday with a final individual competition in Oslo, Norway.

Results

U.S. NoCo in Trondheim (Video)

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

U.S. Nordic Combined has two more World Cup competitions on the docket, and Fast Big Dog caught up with the team on Tuesday during a training day in Trondheim, Norway.

The two remaining individual competitions start Thursday with the large hill/10 k in Trondheim, followed by Saturday’s large hill/15 k in Oslo, Norway.

Schedule

Trouble viewing video above? Click here.

Fletcher Brothers Land in the Top 10; Three Different Americans in the Points in Chaux-Neuve

Monday, January 12th, 2015
Bryan Fletcher racing to eighth in the 10 k individual on Saturday at the World Cup in Chaux-Neuve, France. (Photo: Graham Longford)

Bryan Fletcher leads Germany’s Björn Kircheisen in Saturday’s 10 k individual at the World Cup in Chaux-Neuve, France. Fletcher went on to place eighth, and his brother Taylor Fletcher was fifth. (Photo: Graham Longford)

With the conditions too soggy for jumping, organizers switched Saturday’s Nordic Combined World Cup competition in Chaux-Neuve, France, from a team sprint to an individual race — using Friday’s provisional jump as the standard — which was fine by the Fletcher brothers.

Bryan Fletcher jumped to 25th and Taylor Fletcher positioned himself in 27th on Friday to put Bryan 1:42 and Taylor 2:04 minutes back for Saturday’s individual 10 k.

By the end of the day, both landed in the top 10 with Taylor skiing the fastest 10 k of anyone in the field and finishing fifth, 21.8 seconds behind Norwegian winner Magnus Moan. Bryan placed eighth, 14 seconds after his brother, for his third-individual top 10 of the season. It was Taylor’s first individual top 10 on the World Cup this winter.

“It’s a great feeling to produce this result and share the top 10 with my brother,” Taylor said in a USSA press release. “I thought a podium was a possibility as I was pulling in [Austria’s Bernhard] Gruber and [Norway’s Magnus] Krog but I ran out power with a half kilometer to go.”

While Krog took second and Gruber finished third, 12 seconds ahead of Taylor, Moan won for the second straight day in Chaux-Neuve (after another individual large-hill competition on Friday).

Adam Loomis (47) leads U.S. teammate Billy Demong (54) in Saturday's 10 k at the World Cup in Chaux-Neuve, France. Demong placed 32nd and Loomis finished 34th.   (Photo: Graham Longford)

Adam Loomis (47) leads U.S. teammate Billy Demong (54) in Saturday’s 10 k at the World Cup in Chaux-Neuve, France. Demong placed 32nd and Loomis finished 34th. (Photo: Graham Longford)

Also for the U.S., Billy Demong finished just outside the points in 32nd and Adam Loomis was 34th a day after scoring his first World Cup points in 21st. Also on Friday, Bryan Fletcher placed 20th and Taylor was 35th.

“Another great step in the right direction today,” U.S. Nordic Combined Head Coach Dave Jarrett said. “Taylor and Bryan skied very well. Honestly we were hoping for all guys to be in the points today but Billy crashed in the third lap. Adam did a good job as well and almost skied into points too.”

Saturday’s results

Friday’s results

Bryan Fletcher Rockets from 36th to 8th in Lillehammer; Loomis Gets Career Best 35th

Monday, December 8th, 2014

Thirty-fourth one day, eighth the next.

Thirty-sixth in the jumping portion of Sunday’s World Cup in Lillehammer, Norway, Bryan Fletcher of the U.S. Nordic Combined Team flew on his cross-country skis in the following 10 k, posting the second-fastest time and ultimately finishing eighth, 6 seconds behind Norwegian winner Mikko Kokslien.

While it was the 28-year-old Fletcher’s best finish since last January, when he was fifth in a mini tour in Seefeld, Austria, Kokslien had a similar rise on Sunday — winning in 24:11.8 after ranking 38th in the jump. Germany’s Fabian Riessle went from 31st to second, finishing just 0.3 seconds behind Kokslien, and another 0.6 seconds behind, France’s Jason Lamy Chappuis was third (after dropping from second in the jump with the 21st-ranked ski time).

Also for the U.S., Adam Loomis tallied a career-best 35th (+2:24), with the 46th-ranked jump and 11th-fastest ski time.

“Today was a great race,” Fletcher said in a U.S. Ski & Snowboard Association (USSA) press release. “I was really happy with my skiing both physically and tactically. Getting in the top-10 was a big confidence booster and a huge relief heading into the week break. I am really looking forward to Ramsau’s events in two weeks to continue making progress.”

The Nordic Combined World Cup picks up again in two weeks in Ramsau, Austria, and according to USSA, many of the top Americans will return to the U.S. in that time for a pair of Continental Cup races Thursday through Saturday in Park City, Utah.

Results

 

 

Fletcher Earns First National Title in Placid; Hendrickson & Fairall Victorious

Monday, October 13th, 2014
Bryan Fletcher earned his first U.S. national title Sunday at the 2015 U.S. Ski jumping and Nordic Combined Nationals in Lake Placid, N.Y. The 28-year-old was able to hold off his younger brother, Taylor Fletcher, after having a strong jump that gave him a 1:36 advantage. Taylor, who earned the fastest rollerski time on the day finished second overall. Adam Loomis placed third.
“This is awesome! I’ve been chasing the national title for a while. I think that I’ve been third like four or five times. Every time, including last year, I was really disappointed with my jumping. I would have an amazing (roller ski) race, but still wind up in third place because I was quite a bit back,” Fletcher told USSA.
“I could feel him [Taylor] and I could see him on a couple of sections. There were a few places where we would pass each other going opposite directions, and every time he was inching a little bit closer, so that was a little bit nerve-racking. But in the end, even with him chipping away hard, I was getting more excited reaching the finish line and I came in hot,” he said.
There were two athletes in the women’s competition: Tara Geraghty-Moats, of Women’s Ski Jumping USA, who won and also placed third in the U.S. Ski Jumping Championships, and runner-up Gabby Armstrong.
The K95 U.S. Ski Jumping Championships also took place at Lake Placid’s Olympic Jumping Complex on Sunday, with Sarah Hendrickson winning her third national title and Nick Fairall winning the men’s competition for his second national title.
Hendrickson edged teammate Jessica Jerome with a second jump of 97.5 meters, according to a USSA press release. Fairall, who won the 2014 Olympic Trials last season, was tied with Anders Johnson through the first round, then leapt 100.5 meters on his second jump. The two competitions for first were the closest in recent nationals history. Will Rhoads placed third in the men’s comp.

Lodwick Locks Up Olympic Spot at U.S. NoCo Trials

Saturday, December 28th, 2013

Todd Lodwick is a performer. The five-time U.S. Olympian successfully earned a ticket to his sixth Games with a victory on Saturday at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Park City, Utah.

According to USSA, the 37-year-old Lodwick is the first American to make a sixth Olympic team. His first Olympics were nearly 20 years ago at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.

“It’s a daunting and humbling statement, but I don’t think there was any doubt in my mind, even before this competition, that I was going to make my sixth team as long as I trained hard and competed well,” Lodwick said in a press release.

The U.S. Nordic Combined veteran bested teammate Billy Demong in the jump Saturday morning, and went on to hold his 36-second lead to the finish in the afternoon 10 k at Utah Olympic Park.

“I haven’t been this nervous for a competition for a really long time,” Lodwick said. “I think that is something that I’ve been missing a little on the World Cup tour. Today there was a lot on the line. And to be in front of friends, family and supportive people who have traveled so far to cheer us on as nordic combined skiers and as the legacy of the sport is overwhelming.”

Bryan Fletcher took second, 17.3 seconds after Lodwick, and Demong placed third. Aside from Lodwick, the rest of the U.S. Olympic team will be selected based on World Cup results and named Jan. 22.

NBC will recap Saturday’s nordic-combined trials and live stream the ski-jumping trials on Sunday from 1:30 to 3 p.m. EST.

Results