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Kokslien Takes Steamboat Continental Cup by Storm; Ben Loomis Repeats in 5th

Tuesday, December 19th, 2017

US Nordic Combined’s Ben Loomis (front) on his way to fifth place after jumping the furthest on Day 3 of the Continental Cup series in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. (Photo: USA Nordic/Facebook)

Last Friday through Sunday, Dec. 15-17, Steamboat Springs hosted three days of Nordic Combined Continental Cup individual competitions on the 75-meter “medium” hill and a 2.5-kilometer race course in Steamboat Springs, Colorado.

Day 1

Kicking the series off on Friday, Germany’s Tobias Simon jumped to first with 125.8 points in the initial medium hill/10 k Gundersen start competition. U.S. Nordic Combined’s Ben Loomis jumped to second with 124.3 points and started the 10 k race six seconds after Simon. Norway’s Sindre Ure Søtvik was just behind Loomis after the jump in third with 124.2 points and also started six seconds after Simon.

Also for USA Nordic, Jasper Good flew to 12th with 115.1 points and started the race 43 seconds back. Ben Berend jumped to 18th with 112.9 points and started 52 seconds back, Stephen Schuman jumped to 20th and started 58 seconds back, Grant Andrews was 27th off the hill to start 1:12 behind, Jared Shumate was 39th (+1:47), Tucker Hoefler 43rd (+2:27).

The podium after the 10 k race saw none of the top-three jumpers keep their places. Norway’s Mikko Kokslien, a longtime World Cup racer in his first Continental Cup competitions, rose from 14th to first place, crossing the line in 23:52.2 after starting with a 44-second deficit. Norway had two on the podium with Truls Sønstehagen Johansen racing from 17th to second (+0.6), and France’s Hugo Buffard placed third (+2.6) after jumping to 29th and starting 1:19 minutes back.

Loomis ultimately finished fifth (+14.5) for his best Continental Cup result since almost exactly a year ago, when he was fifth in Klingenthal, Germany. (The 19-year-old Wisconsin native’s career best on the circuit is fourth place, which he achieved in December 2015.) Good moved up to 10th (+38.4) and Schumann 16th (+1:15.3). Berend held his position in 18th (+1:19), and Shumate improved to 30th (+2:09.4), while Andrews slipped to 36th (+2:54.6), and Hoefler moved up one spot for 42nd (+4:28.6).

Canada’s Nathaniel Mah jumped to 35th and finished 40th overall (+4:00.8).

Results: Day 1 Jumping | Day 1 Overall

Day 2

In the second individual medium hill/10 k competition, Kokslien racked up his second-straight win again, jumping to eighth, starting 30 second back and finishing first in 23:49.5. Norway’s Harald Johnas Riiber led after the jump and ended up 11th overall (+1:04.2), after starting 9 seconds ahead of Japan’s Yuto Nakamura (who jumped to second but dropped to 29th in the ski race). France’s Buffard moved one step up on the podium in second place (+7.0) after jumping to 25th and starting the race 1:09 minutes back. Norway’s Johansen stepped down one spot to third (+0:15) after placing 20th in the jump and starting 56 seconds out of first.

For the U.S., Loomis repeated in fifth (+24.1) in a photo finish after jumping to third and starting the ski 12 seconds behind. Good skied to eighth (+38.8) after jumping to 13th and starting 46 seconds back. Schumann placed 15th (+1:33.7) also in a photo finish after jumping to 29th and beginning 1:14 minutes behind. Berend placed 24th (+1:51.4), up from 28th in the jump; Andrews was 30th (+2:07.7) after jumping to 27th and starting with Berend 1:12 minutes back. Shumate finished 33rd (+2:42.7) after jumping to 41st, Beckett Ledger finished 40th (+4:36.2), up two places from 42nd in the jump, and Aidan Ripp finished 42nd (+6:17.4) up from 46th in the jump.

Canada’s Mah jumped to 21st but lost positions in the 10 k for 35th overall (+2:56.3).

Results: Day 2 Jumping | Day 2 Overall

Day 3 

For the third and final day of Steamboat’s Continental Cup, the podium was a reordering of the Day 2 podium and a repeat of the podium from Day 1. So that meant Kokslein was once again on top.

The 32-year-old Norwegian swept the Steamboat series with his third-straight win, finishing first on Sunday in 24:17.7. He started 12th based on his jump and started the race 54 seconds behind Loomis, who jumped to first.

Loomis was first after the jumping portion of the day, scoring 123.8 points, just half a point ahead of Germany’s Simon with 123.5. Riiber jumped to third with 121.7 points.

In the 10 k, Loomis started just 1 second ahead of Simon, and Riiber headed out of the gate 8 seconds after the American. Loomis once again finished the race in fifth, 15.6 seconds behind Kokslien in first. Simon slipped to seventh (+20.4) and Riiber ended up 10th (+35.6).

Meanwhile, Johansen raced up from 19th after the jump (with a 1:04 starting deficit) to second place (+2.0) and Buffars claimed third (+4.2), posting the fastest 10 k time to rise from from 27th and a 1:26 starting deficit. Johansen’s time was second fastest and Kokslien’s was third fastest.

For the U.S., Good finished 12th (+54.6) after jumping to 24th and starting 1:09 back. Berend placed 18th (+1:25.8), down three spots after jumping to 13th, and Schumann finished 20th (+1:34.1) after jumping to 35th. Andrews, who’s based in Steamboat, finished 27th (+1:56.1), after jumping to 16th, Shumate was 31st (+2:11.1), up from 38th after the jump, Hoefler skied to 41st (+4:40.9), Steamboat’s Bennett Gamber placed 43rd (+5:26.1) after starting 40th based on his jump.

Mah jumped to 36th and finished 38th overall (+2:56.3).  

The Nordic Combined Continental Cup goes on break for the holidays before resuming in Klingenthal, Germany, Jan. 5-7.

Results: Day 3 Jumping | Day 3 Overall

— Jason Albert

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