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Archive for March, 2014

Another Win for Watabe; Taylor Fletcher Just Outside Top 10 in Falun; Team Event Canceled

Sunday, March 16th, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Saturday: Results

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

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

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.

Rydzek Jumps to the Top of the Podium in Oslo World Cup; Fletcher Top U.S. Finisher

Tuesday, March 11th, 2014

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

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


Demong 10th in Trondheim World Cup, Fletcher Fastest in XC

Friday, March 7th, 2014

It was a nice day in Trondheim on Thursday.

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

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

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

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

Bryan Fletcher (USA) did not start.

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



Norway Bests Germany in Lahti Team Sprint; U.S. 14th

Saturday, March 1st, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

Bryan Fletcher was 34th for the United States.

Results: Team sprint | Normal hill/10 k