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World Cup Racing Resumes; Fletchers with Fastest Course Times in Chaux-Neuve

Monday, January 25th, 2016

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

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.

U.S. Nordic Combined Seventh in World Champs 4 x 5 k Team Event

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015
Taylor Fletcher en route to the fastest tim of the second leg of the team gundersen 4 x 5 k at the 2015 FIS  Nordic World Ski Championships in Falun, Sweden. (photo: flying pointroad)

Taylor Fletcher (8) en route to the fastest time of the second leg of the team Gundersen 4 x 5 k at the 2015 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Falun, Sweden. (Photo: FlyingPointRoad.com)

FALUN, Sweden — The U.S. Nordic Combined squad jumped to eighth and skied to seventh overall in Sunday’s 4 x 5-kilometer team event at the 2015 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.

Going into the cross-country portion ranked eighth after the 100-meter jump hill, the four-man U.S. team, consisting of Bryan Fletcher, Taylor Fletcher, Adam Loomis, and Billy Demong attempted to make up time on the German leaders who started 1:39 ahead of them.  The American squad was unable to make up ground on the leaders, but moved up to seventh place over the course of the relay.

Bryan Fletcher notched the second-fastest time in the relay’s first leg, while his brother Taylor clocked the fastest time of the second leg. The U.S. stuck with Italy for much of the race, and was advancing on the rest of the competition until Italy charged ahead in the final 5 k.

Germany convincingly won the race with a time of 44:20.7 and was followed by Norway (+23.1) and France (+39.6). Third in the team event at 2013 World Championships, the U.S. finished 2:37.8 back from the winners on Sunday.

Results

Bryan Fletcher 21st for Top American Result in Val di Fiemme Weekend

Monday, February 2nd, 2015

The end of January welcomed three days of racing in Val di Fiemme, Italy for the nordic combined World Cup. The first day of racing marked the individual Gundersen 10 k, where Bernhard Gruber of of Austria won with a time of 29:13.9. He was followed by Norwegians Jan Schmid (+7.8) and Jørgen Graaback (+10.2) in second and third. Bryan Fletcher led the Americans in 25th place, 1:44.5 behind. He was followed by Adam Loomis and Micheal Ward in 28th and 41st.

Saturday’s team sprint went to Johannes Wasel, Tobias Simon and David Welde of team Germany. They were followed by Japan and Russia in second and third.

Sunday’s 10 k Gundersen went to Jørgen Graaback of Norway, who won his first World Cup in 25.28.7. Rounding out the podium were Gruber (+3.8) and Fabian Rießle of Germany (+4.1), respectively.

Fletcher led the American men in the Val di Fiemme in 21st (+1:03.5). In what a U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association press release called an “illness-plagued weekend,” the American team was unable to match its most recent World Cup performance in Sapporo, Japan, where brother Taylor Fletcher notched third and Bryan placed eighth. Taylor finished 35th in Sunday’s race, while teammates Loomis and Colin Delaney finished 36th and 45th.

Friday’s 10 k Gundersen Results

Saturday’s Team Sprint

Sunday’s 10 k Gundersen Results

On the Road (and Bus and at the Hotel) with U.S. NoCo in Sapporo (Video)

Friday, January 23rd, 2015

On Thursday, Fast Big Dog filmed and edited the above video during a provisional-jump day in Sapporo, Japan. The Nordic Combined World Cup begins there on Friday and lasts through Saturday, with back-to-back individual competitions.

Trouble viewing video? Click here.

Bryan Fletcher Closes Seefeld Triple in Top 10, Demong 16th

Tuesday, January 20th, 2015
The Seefeld Triple ended Sunday, Jan. 18, with Germany’s Eric Frenzel completing the three-day sweep of the World Cup competitions, and American Bryan Fletcher landing in ninth overall.
On Sunday, Fletcher jumped to 14th on the normal hill, then skied up to ninth in the 15 k (with the 10th-fastest ski time), finishing 1:24.3 after Frenzel.
“Today was another solid day on the jump hill adding to my confidence there,” Fletcher said in a USSA press release. “The race was solid and I was really happy to finish in the top ten.”
It was his fourth top 10 of the season, and Fletcher explained he was excited to build on his results at next weekend’s competition in Sapporo, Japan. On Saturday, he placed 11th.
“It was a strong comeback after my 39th place finish the first day [Friday],” Fletcher said.
U.S. teammate Billy Demong placed 16th on Sunday, for 16th overall in the Triple, after jumping to 17th. His 15 k time ranked 13th and Demong finished 2:16.8 behind Frenzel.
Norway’s Håvard Klemetsen jumped to first and ultimately placed second, 9.9 seconds behind Frenzel, who won in 38:25.9. Japan’s Akito Watabe improved from fifth in the jump to third overall (+20.5) to round out the Seefeld Triple podium.
Results: Sunday