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Riiber Wins at Holmenkollen; Bryan Fletcher 20th There and 14th in Trondheim

Wednesday, February 10th, 2016
This past weekend on Saturday, Feb. 6, during the same foggy conditions in which the men’s Holmenkollen cross-country 50 k classic was run, the Nordic Combined World Cup sent skiers off of Holmenkollen’s 134-meter large hill for the jumping portion of an individual gundersen 10 k.

Norway’s Jarl Magnus Riiber won the event. Japan’s Akito Watabe placed second, and overall Nordic Combined World Cup leader, Germany’s Eric Frenzel, raced to third.

The U.S. had two athletes in the points: Bryan Fletcher skied to 20th, while his brother, Taylor Fletcher, placed 30th. Teammate Adam Loomis finished 43rd.

In a video on FIS, jumpers flying off the large hill are seen first as gray-tone silhouettes, then at the last second, as spandex-clad jumpers as they near the landing zone in Holmenkollen’s pea-soup visibility.

The jumping proved decisive. With the jump heading off the large hill, the time differences at the start of the skiing portion were expected to be possibly insurmountable.

In an email, Bryan Fletcher explained that the large hill gives a slight advantage to those best at jumping. With longer flight potential, there’s also the potential for greater differences in the distances jumped, and therefore, points earned. “The new large hill points are making the competitions very spread out and weighted a little more on the jumping,” he wrote.

In another post-race email, Taylor Fletcher shared those sentiments. “The jumping is now much harder on the larger hill as it tips the cap to the strong jumpers much more than before.”

As was expected, big gaps were earned from those performing best on the large hill.

Riiber won the jump, earning 135.1 points, and a whopping 1:10 advantage at the start of the 10 k ski over Watabe and Frenzel, who scored 117.7 and 117.5 points, respectively. Bryan jumped to 20th, starting the ski 2:31 back, Loomis was 38th off the hill, 3:56 back, and Taylor 45th after the jump, and starting 4:25 after jump winner Riiber.

During the ski portion, no one was able to close the gap on Riiber. He crossed the line first in 24:36. Watabe did reel Riiber in a bit closer, but Riiber’s 1:10 head start proved too big. Watabe, who skied to second overall, was 16.6 seconds back at the finish. Frenzel, who started with Watabe, couldn’t match the Japanese skier’s pace. He placed third (+28.2).

Bryan skied the ninth fastest ski time on the day and skied up five spots  — starting in 20th and finishing 15th. He leaves Holmenkollen’s storied venue knowing he is trending towards the positive when it comes to his jumping.

“Oslo was an awesome event. I know it may have seemed a little boring on the tv with all the fog but it was a nice comp with good winds in tough conditions.  Personally I was happy with my jumping in the comp. Another step in the right direction for me and I am continuing to work with these positive steps.  The XC was tough, my legs were still a bit heavy from the last weekends races and I felt it in the race.”

In fact, Bryan has stood atop the podium here before. In 2012, he won the World Cup final there, which included a large hill/10 k competition.

“Competing in Oslo is always special. Having the memories of winning there will always stay with me for the rest of my life.  Coming back each year I get a boost of energy thinking about the good memories I have had there,” Bryan wrote. “This week we have Trondheim comps and hopefully I can carry the recent momentum into tomorrows and the next day’s events. This is another hard course and a large hill so I expect jumping to be very important to getting results.”

Of the two brothers, Taylor posted the faster ski leg with the third fastest-time of the day, finishing in 30th (+2:55.9). Post-ski, he had climbed a full 15 spots on the leaderboard, after starting the ski race in 45th.

Taylor wrote that the Oslo competitions are always something to look forward to.

“Holmenkollen is something special for sure. I have been there a couple times now, and each time I go, I can’t wait to go back. The venue provides a special setting for competition. I know there is no other venue that will gather as many people that are as passionate about nordic sports as in Oslo. Over the years, our team has had some success there, which makes it memorable. This year was much harder for me as I was struggling with the jumping portion of  nordic combined. That being said, Even when I am not in a position to be on the podium, I still race as hard as possible as the fans make you feel like you’re possibly winning the race.”

Nordic Combined World Cup racing continued Tuesday with a large hill/10 k competition in Trondheim, Norway.

There, Bryan improved from 26th in the jump to 14th overall, 1:14 behind Norwegian winner Jørgen Graabak. Taylor placed 28th (+2:46.1) after jumping to 49th on the 140-meter large hill in Trondheim, once again posting the third-fastest 10 k time. Loomis was 47th in the jump and finished in the same spot, 47th (+4:22.9).

“14th place today 26th after jumping & raced 5th fastest time,” Bryan tweeted after Tuesday’s competition. “Take two in Trondheim tomorrow!”

Graabak won the first day of competition in Trondheim after jumping to eighth and crossing the line first in 24:26.2. Frenzel finished just 5.1 seconds back in second place after jumping to seventh, and starting 7 seconds ahead of Graabak. The jump leader with a 16-second head start, Riiber held onto podium in third (+19.7).

Holmenkollen: Jumping results | Overall results

Trondheim: Tuesday’s jump | Overall results

— Jason Albert

Germans dominate podium; US Men Finish 7th in Lahti, Finland

Saturday, March 9th, 2013

Johannes Rydzek (GER) and Eric Frenzel (GER) claimed the Team Sprint HS 130/2×7.5km victory today in Lahti, Finland.

The German duo began the sprint course in first position after a commanding jumping performance.  Their winning time was 24:53.

France , consisting of Jason Lamy Chappuis and François Braud, held second position across the finish but were later disqualified because of an illegal passing violation.

This left the second podium spot to Germany’s second team, Tino Edelmann and Fabian Riessle), whom finished in a time of  25:15.7.

Norway, represented by Mikko Kokslien and Håvard Klemetsen, had been taken out of the medal hunt due to a piece of misfortune.  On the last lap before the finish Kokslien broke a pole and the battle for the podium spot was relinquished to the German second team.  After the disqualification of the French, the Norwegians were promoted to 3rd place, finishing in a time of 25:17.0

Behind the front runners a tight battle was waged for places between Austria I, Japan I, and Austria II, whom finished in 4th, 5th, and 6th places respectively.  The result was disappointing for both Japan I and Austria II, whom couldn’t capitalize on promising 2nd and 3rd starting positions.

The United States, represented by Bryan and Taylor Fletcher, skied to a 7th place finish, neither gaining or losing a place from their 8th place starting position (Given the disqualification of France).  They finished in a time of 25:48.6, 55.6 seconds out of the win.

Results

Germany Wins Team Event, U.S. 7th

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

Germany demonstrated their strength in depth Sunday in Sochi, Russia, winning the men’s HS140/4×5 k team event by a commanding margin of 2.7 seconds over the second placed French team.

The German team consisted of Johannes Rydzek, Björn Kircheisen, Manuel Faisst and Eric Frenzel.  Frenzel had to subdue the charge of Frenchman Jason Lamy Chappuis, a close rival in the overall Nordic Combined standings.

Manuel Faisst (GER), started off proceedings with a strong first leg which allowed subsequent runners Johannes Rydzek (GER) and Björn Kircheisen (GER) to set up Frenzel for the expectant showdown of Frenzel and Chappuis (FRA).

Frenzel precluded any late heroics by Chappuis by skiing away from his rival; Germany finished in a time of 51:23.3.

Austria completed the podium, trailing in in a time of 51:32.6, 9.3 seconds behind the winning time of Germany.

The United States skied to a seventh-place finish in a time of 53:14.2, 1:51.1 behind Germany.

Results

Gruber Denies Frenzel, Taylor Fletcher surges to 5th in Sochi

Saturday, February 2nd, 2013

Bernhard Gruber (AUT) interrupted Eric Frenzel‘s lavish run of recent form to take the win earlier today in Sochi, Russia.  Gruber jumped well through tough, foggy conditions, beginning the skating portion of the Gunderson HS 140/10km competition in 2nd place.  He quickly overtook compatriot Mario Seidl (AUT), a diminutive 20 year old that destoryed the field away in the jumping but lacks skiing speed.  Gruber finished in a combined time of 28:19.7.

Frenzel (GER), had a less auspicious jump (5th), but showed strong skiing form, though it wasn’t enough to overtake Gruber (AUT).  Frenzel notched a second place finish in 28:33.8, 14.1 seconds in arreas.

Wilhelm Denifl (AUS) posted a 3rd place finish after a 4th place jump.  He held off a strong challenge from Taiei Kato (JAP) to finish in 28:35.2, a mere 0.3 seconds ahead of the Japanese.

A few seconds later Taylor Fletcher (USA) broke the line for a 5th place finish.  Of the top  5 finishers his result is notable in that he overcame a large deficit after jumping 15th.  Taylor was just 18.2 seconds behind winner Gruber (AUT), finishing in 28:37.9.

Brother and countryman Bryan Fletcher (USA) finished farther back in 15th after a promising 10th place jump.  He posted a time of 29:24.6.

Bill Demong (USA) also tested out the Olympic venue, finishing 28th in 31:05.3.

Results

Nordic Combined action continues with the Team HS140/4x5km competition Sunday.

Frenzel Claims Yet Another Victory; Bryan Fletcher Delivers Again

Sunday, January 27th, 2013

At the moment, no one can touch Eric Frenzel (GER) when he’s on form.

Frenzel (GER) took his 4th straight victory in Klingenthal, Germany today, this time in the penalty race.  The german finished in 23:21.1, 22.4 seconds ahead of country man Tino Edelmann (GER).  Frenzel (GER) performance was superior, jumping to a first place finish and then steadily extending his lead in the 10km ski race

Perhaps on the strength of home advantage, the Germans swept the podium, with third place secured by Johannes Rydzek (GER) in a time of 23:55.5.

Brian Fletcher (USA) returned another strong performance, finishing in 8th place after a 7th placed jump.  He finished in a time of 24.02.5.

Teammate Bill Demong (USA) improved upon his performance yesterday, finishing the Penalty race in 12th place after a last place jump.  He crossed the line in 24:45.4

No other Americans qualified for the skiing competition.

Results

Frenzel Imperious, Bryan Fletcher Top US finish

Saturday, January 26th, 2013

Eric Frenzel (GER) skied to his third victory in a week, this time in his home stadium in Klingenthal, Germany.  His form has finally arrived, and with it, success.

Frenzel won the ski jumping competition and began the cross country ski race in the first bib.  He would not relinquish his advantage for the duration of the 10km race, crossing the finish line with a comfortable 10.4 second margin ahead of countryman Tino Eldelmann (GER).  Frenzel finished with a total time of 23:13.8.

Third place honors went to Wilhelm Denifl (GER), who showed strong skiing form after a 6th place jump.  He finished in 23:20.

Bryan Fletcher delivered the best US performance on the day, finishing an encouraging 6th place after a 15th place jump; his time was 24:07.8, 54 seconds behind winner Eric Frenzel (GER)

Brother Taylor Fletcher was the next best US finisher; he secured a 17th placed position after a 34th placed jump in a time of 24.49.2.

Johnny Spillane and Billy Demong also took part today, capturing 22nd and 29th place respectively.

Nordic Combined action continues tomorrow with the Penalty Race 140HS/10km competition.

Results