Taylor Fletcher wins Olympic Nordic combined trials and qualifies for fourth Olympics

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Taylor Fletcher in action during a practice jump ahead of the start of the U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping Trials on December 24, 2021 in Lake Placid, New York.

From the start of the 10 km, Fletcher was in pursuit of him.

“I didn’t have my best jump,” he said. “I am capable of much more. But you know, I didn’t have the worst jump either, and I was in the chase from the start.

Fletcher quickly caught up with Good and Shumate, and by the second of four laps he was less than 9 seconds behind Loomis. In the third round, he had let go of Good and Shumate and caught up with Loomis. The two then skied together until the final climb.

“Ben made a really strong swing at the top of the course and widened that gap a bit,” said Fletcher. “But luckily I was able to come back just before the descent. And then it was really… there’s $ 10,000 at stake.

Fletcher let Loomis down and held the lead until the end. This is Fletcher’s first Olympic Trials victory in four trials. In the previous three Olympic Nordic Combined Trials he was vying for a spot on the team with his older brother Bryan and 2010 Olympic medalists Todd Lodwick, Bill Demong and Johnny Spillane.

“It’s very gratifying to be able to win here because in the years gone by it has always been so difficult [to win] with Billy Demong and Johnny Spillane and Bryan, ”admitted Fletcher. “Even though there were good years there, I always felt like I never had the performance.”

Looking ahead, Fletcher – who grew up skiing with his brother in Steamboat Springs, Colorado – is excited about the young Americans coming behind him, especially Loomis. Hailing from Eau Claire, Wisconsin, Loomis has long been on USA Nordic’s radar. When he was five, he tried ski jumping after watching his older brother, Adam. Young Loomis then rose through the ranks.

“He’s more talented than I am at his age,” said Demong, who now heads USA Nordic, the national leadership organization for Nordic combined and ski jumping in the United States.

Still a junior, Loomis competed in the 2018 Winter Olympics just weeks after winning a bronze medal in the normal hill competition at the FIS World Junior Championships. He was seventh in the aerials portion of that competition and then climbed onto the podium.

Notably, in this competition, Loomis finished 8 seconds ahead of Austrian Johannes Lamparter, who has consistently finished on the World Cup podium this season.

Loomis is at the head of a group of talented young Nordic combined athletes who could take the United States back to the glory days of Nordic combined – when Deong, Spillane and Lodwick won Olympic and world championship medals, as they l ‘did at the Vancouver 2010 Winter Games.

“With Bill at the helm of USA Nordic, everyone put their heart and soul into the development and really worked from the bottom up to develop the athletes and make the sport grow,” said Fletcher, noting that the US Nordic combined contingent is one of the third largest in the world.

“We can’t show it in terms of results right now, but give it five, six, and I’m sure these guys are going to fight for the top spots at the world championships and the Olympics,” a- he added.

This season, Loomis has finished consistently in World Cup points (top 30). And at the Lillehammer World Cup in early December, he and Fletcher helped the United States to finish fifth in the team event. This is the best American men’s result in a team event since 2014.

Loomis is currently ranked 29th in the World Cup standings, one place ahead of Fletcher. A mainstay of the US Nordic combined team for the past decade, Fletcher has two World Cup podiums to his name and helped the United States to a bronze medal in the team event at the championships. of the world 2013.

“We are in a better position than in the past,” said Loomis. “We still have a young team, so we will all come away with experience [in Beijing] and continue to build the 2026 Games. “


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