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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

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

France Wins World Champs Team Sprint, Lamy Chappuis to Retire; Fletchers 10th for U.S.

Saturday, February 28th, 2015

FALUN, Sweden — Francois Braud and Jason Lamy Chappuis of France catapulted themselves to gold in the 2 x 7.5-kilometer team sprint on Saturday, the last day of nordic combined at the 2015 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.

With that, the 28-year-old Jason Lamy Chappuis, who defended his team sprint title from 2013 World Championships and won his first gold of these worlds, announced this would be his last season.

“Finishing here in Falun with a world championship title, I think is the best way to finish a career,” he told the Associated Press. “I want these memories like today to be forever in my head.”

Lamy Chappuis added that he plans to finish out the World Cup season in March.

First in the jump, Braud and Lamy Chappuis started the two-man sprint 11 seconds ahead of Japan’s Yoshito Watabe and Akito Watabe in second. Germany’s Eric Frenzel and Johannes Rydzek headed out third, 21 seconds out of first, and Norway’s Magnus Moan and Håvard Klemetsen started with a 44-second deficit in fourth.

The U.S., with Bryan Fletcher and Taylor Fletcher, jumped to 10th of 12 teams and started 2:04 back.

“Not sure how you get minus wind points and a green light in a headwind comp?” U.S. Nordic Combined Head Coach Dave Jarrett tweeted after the jumping portion.

Amid the softest, slowest conditions of the two-week championships (the course had been re-groomed after the women’s 30 k classic, but didn’t firm up in the warm temperatures), the Fletchers improved to ninth, 1:59.9 behind France with the fifth-fastest team time in the cross-country race.

“Today was racing for pride,” Bryan said in a USSA press release. “I was unlucky on the jump and needed a near perfect jump to have a chance in those conditions. Unfortunately I didn’t have that jump which took Tay and I out of the competition.”
“Taylor and I went out in the race to enjoy the crowd and the atmosphere in the last competition of worlds,” he added. “Falun did a great job hosting the championships and I enjoyed them throughly. I am walking away with a personal best finish and some motivation going into the rest of the season.”

France edged out Germany by 2.7 seconds and Norway took bronze, 19.4 seconds out of first.

Finland’s Ilkka Herola and Jim Haertull finished fourth (+1:04.2), Italy was fifth (+1:18.7) with Samuel Costa and Alessandro Pittin, the Watabe brothers placed sixth (+1:25.7), Austria’s Sepp Schneider and Bernhard Gruber were seventh (+1:40.9), and the Czech Republic was eighth (+1:50.4).

After the U.S., Slovenia placed 10th and Estonia was 11th.

Results

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

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

Taylor Fletcher Overcomes Ho-Hum Jump with Spectacular Skiing for 6th, Twice, at Chaikovski

Sunday, January 5th, 2014

If you can ski fast enough to overcome almost any deficit on skis, who needs jumping? Not U.S. Ski Team member Taylor Fletcher, as he demonstrated in the World Cup competition this weekend in Chaikovski, Russia. His jump score put him in 49th place with a 3:05 deficit on Saturday and 43rd place with a 2:15 deficit on Sunday.

Not to be deterred, Fletcher turned on the afterburners and skied the fastest time of the day by 38 seconds on Saturday, passing 43 people to finish in sixth place overall, 35.4 seconds behind overall winner Tim Hug of Switzerland (27:44.9). On Sunday he matched that performance, again turning in the fastest ski time on the 10-kilometer course, to place 6th again, finishing 40.9 seconds behind winner Wilhelm Denifl of Austria (26:11.0).

“I knew it was possible to move up a fair amount because the course was a great match for my skiing,” Fletcher said regarding Saturday’s results. “I went out super strong because …I wanted to get through [a lot of other racers] so I had open trails ahead.”

Fletcher was not sure, at first, that his apparent success was real.

“I was concerned because I made so much time up so quickly and I thought I was going to crash hard but I just kept going.”

But it was real. He said he was surprised by how much faster than the rest of the field he was.

“There were some strong skiers here that I never thought I would catch,” he said.

“It just goes to show that it is not over after jumping” Head Coach Dave Jarrett said in a USSA press release.

Still, with so much room for improvement in his jumping, Fletcher is eager to see what he can do. With two more World Cups coming up January 11-12 in Chaux Neuve, France and January 17-19 in Seefeld, Austria, Fletcher knows the podium is within reach.

“I feel better with these results. I know I still have a lot of work to do, but I will get it. Jumping is getting better and I feel confident going into the next couple weeks.”

As for the Olympics? First things first, Fletcher says.

“I have two more weekends of World Cup that I am really looking forward to. Last year I really got into a good zone and I look forward to doing that again. [Then I] will go home and rest and prepare for the goal of the winter.”

This weekend’s results put Taylor in 20th place overall in the World Cup standings. Top 50 is needed to qualify for the Sochi Olympics. In the US rankings, Fletcher is led only by his brother, Bryan Fletcher, who is ranked 17th. Rounding out North Americans also in the World Cup standings are Bill Demong, 37th, and Todd Lodwick, 50th.

Complete results: Saturday | Sunday