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Rydzek Wins; Bryan Fletcher 12th with Second-Fastest Time in Kuopio

Thursday, February 25th, 2016
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

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

Bryan Fletcher Defends National Title with Large-Hill Win in Park City

Monday, August 3rd, 2015

 

Bryan Fletcher tucks around a high-speed corner at Soldier Hollow en route to a repeat national title at the U.S. Nordic Combined Championships in Midway, Utah. (USSA/Tom Kelly)

Bryan Fletcher tucks around a high-speed corner at Soldier Hollow en route to a repeat national title at the U.S. Nordic Combined Championships in Midway, Utah. (Photo: USSA/Tom Kelly)

Bryan Fletcher notched his second-straight national title on Saturday at the U.S. Nordic Combined Championships at Soldier Hollow in Midway, Utah.

After posting the farthest jump on the 134-meter large hill at Utah Olympic Park, Fletcher, 29, started first (with a 26-second head start) in the cross-country rollerski race and held off U.S. Nordic Combined teammate Adam Loomis, 23, for the win. As he crossed the finish line five seconds ahead of Loomis, Fletcher made a point for a mini celebration.

The podium at the 2015 U.S. Nordic Combined Championships, which were held in Park City and Midway, Utah: with winner Bryan Fletcher (c), second-place finisher Adam Loomis (l) and Taylor Fletcher in third. (Photo: Dave Jarrett/Twitter)

The podium at the 2015 U.S. Nordic Combined Championships, which were held in Park City and Midway, Utah: with winner Bryan Fletcher (c), second-place finisher Adam Loomis (l) and Taylor Fletcher in third. (Photo: Dave Jarrett/Twitter)

“It was a little close there at the end,” Fletcher told Steamboat Today. “Coming up to the stadium it was a little bit of a sprint to make sure I had a comfortable distance, but then it was getting in a good celebration and pump for the crowd and for me to excitedly celebrate winning the race.”

Fletcher remains the only active U.S. team member to hold a national title. He won last year’s championships in Lake Placid, N.Y.  His younger brother, Taylor, placed third on Saturday, finishing 47 seconds after Bryan after starting 1 minute and 4 seconds behind.

“Going into the race I knew I could come home with the victory if I paced it right,” Fletcher said. “I was able to hold off Adam and Taylor who were charging and coming up behind me fast. I knew it was coming in hot. Going into the stadium on the last lap, I knew once I made it over the top of the hill that I had it in the bag.”

U.S. Nordic Combined members Michael Ward, Jasper Good and Ben Berend placed fourth through sixth, respectively. Fifteen men completed the race.

 

Complete 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.

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.

Life on the Circuit: Bowling Bet out of Boredom Video

Friday, March 14th, 2014

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.

U.S. Nordic Combined Olympic Trials on Saturday

Friday, December 27th, 2013
Snow is set on the 2.5k cross country track while the jumps stand ready in the background for this weekend's Olympic Trials for Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined at the Utah Olympic Park. (U.S. Ski Team - Tom Kelly)

Snow is set on the 2.5k cross country track while the jumps stand ready in the background for this weekend’s Olympic Trials for Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined at the Utah Olympic Park. (Photo: US Ski Team/Tom Kelly)

Several Americans will be contending for a guaranteed Olympic spot on Saturday at the U.S. Nordic Combined Olympic trials in Park City, Utah. The HS-100 jumping competition starts Saturday at 10:15 MST and the two-lap 10 k race will take place at 2 p.m.

After Saturday’s NoCo events, men’s and women’s ski jumping will hold their own Olympic trials on Sunday with NBC live streaming the events (and recapping the nordic-combined trials) from 1:30-3 p.m. EST.

Bryan Fletcher in the competition jump at the Ramsau World Cup last weekend.

Bryan Fletcher (U.S. Nordic Combined) jumping at the Ramsau World Cup last weekend.

 

SCHEDULE (via US Ski Team)

All events at Utah Olympic Park

Saturday, Dec. 28 – 2014 U.S. Olympic Trials – Nordic Combined

  • Nordic Combined Trial Jump – 9:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. MST
  • Nordic Combined Competition Jump – 10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. MST
  • Nordic Combined 10k (4×2.5k) – 2:00 p.m. – 2:35 p.m. MST
  • Nordic Combined Awards Ceremony – 2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. MST

Sunday, Dec. 29 – 2014 U.S. Olympic Trials – Ski Jumping

  • Men’s and Women’s Trial Jump – 11:10 a.m. – 11:38 a.m. MST
  • Men’s and Women’s Competition Jump 1 – 11:50 a.m. – 12:05 p.m. MST
  • Men’s and Women’s Competition Jump 2 – 12:36 p.m. – 12:52 p.m. MST
  • Men’s and Women’s Awards Ceremony – 1:00 p.m. – 1:10 p.m. MST

Norway Wins NoCo Team Event in Kuusamo, Taylor Fletcher Lifts U.S. to Seventh

Monday, December 2nd, 2013

Norway’s success in Kuusamo was furthered with a victory in the Nordic Combined relay.  After an excellent morning of ski jumping, the team skated well in the afternoon, and won with a comfortable margin of 30 seconds over their closest rival Germany.

Magnus Krog led the Norwegians in jumping, flying 145 meters, a new personal best.  His teammates, Grabbak, Kokslien, and Klemetsen, had big jumps as well, landing only 15 to 17 meters behind Krog’s jump, the biggest of the day.

Only Japan’s Yoshito Watabe could come close to matching Krog’s performance, landing just a half meter behind the Norwegians benchmark jump.

The Russian team continued their run of results in Kuusamo, with excellent jumping by all teammates to finishing third behind Norway and Japan in the jumping round.

The American’s did not have a good day on the jump, finishing in 12th, with a start time on the skiing leg 4:22 behind Norway.

Norway’s Haavard Klemetsen led the 5k cross country leg of the relay.  He was chased 28 seconds later by Japan’s Taihei Kato, followed 20 seconds later by Russian Evgeniy Klimov.

Norway’s biggest threat to their race however came in the form of Germany’s first leg skier Bjoern Kircheisen, who started 48 seconds after Klemetsen and skied the fastest 5k leg of the day in 12:15.

Kircheisen nearly surpassed Klemetsen, and the two handed off nearly simultaneously. Manuel Faisst (GER) battled it out with Krog (NOR) to see who would take the lead, but late in race Krog was able to ski away from a tired Faisst to give his teammate Kosklien a 10 second advantage over Germany at the handoff.  Johannes Rydzek (GER) could not match Kosklien over the course and lost yet another 10 seconds to Norway.

Joergen Graaback (NOR), skiing the anchor leg, had ample time at the end of his race to grab a Norwegian flag and savor the victory as he skied into the stadium.

Mikko Kosklien told FIS after his important third leg, “It was a really hard 5k, a tough one, so I was happy that Krog could give me the gap and then I started to try and increase the gap a little bit.  For sure it was a nice feeling to see Joergen come through the finish.”

The Nordic Combined World Cup continues next weekend in Lillehammer.

— Pasha Kahn

Also: (from U.S. Ski Team press release)

U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team’s Taylor Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) posted the fastest time in his cross country anchor leg and moved up the pack to give the USA seventh in the 4x5k team event at the nordic combined World Cup season opener.

The Team started the relay in 12th after the team HS142 jumping portion earlier on Sunday.

The Norwegian team jumped into first place and held its lead throughout the relay.

The U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team, Taylor Fletcher, Bryan Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO), Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY), is starting the season after winning the first ever American medal in the team event at the Nordic World Ski Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy, last February.

The four U.S. athletes failed to qualify in the top 50 for the individual event on Saturday and did not compete. (Note: Demong was disqualified for equipment in the provisional round: ICR 4.2.2.2. German Erik Frenzel won the LH HS142/10 k competition by jumping to fourth and posting the ninth-fastest race time. He beat Norwegians Grabaak and Krog in second and third, by 3.5 and 6.9 seconds, respectively.)

Next the Team travels to Lillehammer, Norway for the nordic combined FIS World Cup on Dec. 7-8.

Results: Saturday’s individual LH/10 k Sunday’s team event

After Three Olympic Silvers, Spillane Retires Before 2014 Games

Thursday, April 18th, 2013

A longtime staple and accomplished veteran on the U.S. Nordic Combined Team, Johnny Spillane announced Thursday that he was retiring from the sport. In a letter to Steamboat Today, Spillane, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., cited family as his main reason for leaving the national team and life as a professional skier before the 2014 Olympics.

“My desire to be at home with my family outweighs my desire to pursue another Olympic medal,” he wrote. “In addition, I’m at a point in my personal life where I cannot afford to take the risk involved with professional athletics. I have a family for which I provide, and an injury or poor season can make it incredibly difficult to do so. While I will miss the sport, I will not miss the travel and the weeks away from home. It is difficult to watch your daughters grow up on Skype.”

Spillane, 32, racked up three Olympic silvers at the 2010 Vancouver Games and an individual gold at the 2003 World Championships.

“I am very proud of what our team accomplished while I was a member,” Spillane continued. “When I started, we had no Olympic or World Championship medals. Now the team boasts of three World Champions [Spillane, Billy Demong and Todd Lodwick], two Olympic individual medalists [Spillane and Demong] and one Olympic champion [Demong].”

He also thanked the Steamboat community for its support and intends to remain settled there.

Full article

 

 

Demong Anchors U.S. to Historic World Championships Bronze in Team Event

Sunday, February 24th, 2013

VAL DI FIEMME, Italy — After placing fourth in the past two World Championships, the Americans made a point to land on the podium on Sunday in the normal hill/4 x 5 k team event and make history for U.S. Nordic Combined.

Starting in fifth about a minute behind Japan, which had the best jumping team score, the U.S. (Taylor Fletcher, Bryan Fletcher, Todd Lodwick, Billy Demong) rose to second early in the second leg with a strong performance from Bryan Fletcher. Austria’s Wilhelm Denifl had broken away a few kilometers into the race, and Fletcher tagged off to Lodwick in third, 23.3 seconds behind Austria and and less than a second behind Norway.

Lodwick worked with Norway, France and Japan to catch Austria’s Lukas Klapfer, positioning the U.S. in fourth at the last exchange.

Early in the final leg, Demong surged up front to lead Japan, France, Norway and Austria. With less than 2 k to go, he was still in the lead, followed closely by Norway’s Magnus Moan and France’s Jason Lamy Chappuis. On the final climb, Moan and Chappuis attacked and dropped Demong.

While Lamy Chappuis outsprinted Moan to the finish by 0.4 seconds to win gold for France, Demong held off Japan’s Yusuke Minato and Austria’s Mario Stecher on the downhill into the stadium and placed third, 4.2 seconds behind.

Results