Fletcher brothers shine at Nordic combined Summer Grand Prix in Germany
Olympian Taylor Fletcher of Steamboat Springs set a torrid pace with the second fastest roller ski time to finish 12th in a FIS Nordic Combined Summer Grand Prix Sunday in Oberwiesenthal, Germany, along the Czech border. Eric Frenzel led a German sweep of the podium.
In the morning jump on the HS106 meter hill, Taylor’s brother Bryan Fletcher led the U.S. with a 92.0 meter ride for 27th. Frenzel set the pace with a huge 105.0 meter jump. Bryan Fletcher started 1:57 back from Frenzel, with Taylor one second behind.
The brothers Fletcher slowly overtook skier after skier to move toward the front. In the intense afternoon heat, Bryan Fletcher eventually dropped back to finish 19th while Taylor moved up to 12th.
Michael Ward of Aspen had an impressive day, logging the fourth-fastest roller ski time to finish 29th. Adam Loomis of Eau Claire, Wisconsin was one spot ahead in 28th, skiing the 11th-fastest roller ski team. Four U.S. athletes cracked the top 30.
In the team sprint event Saturday, the brothers Fletcher combined to finish 11th with Ben Berend and Jasper Good, both of Steamboat, 22nd.
“For the race, I have to be happy,” Taylor Fletcher said. “It was our first race of the year, and it’s always hard to know where you stand against the European teams as we have no contact at all until these comps.”
The competition was more challenging as ski bags had not yet arrived, so Taylor was jumping in new skis. In addition, new equipment measuring systems were nerve racking for athletes with a host of disqualifications amidst new procedures.
“My jump was pretty much consistently my average over these last couple weeks,” Taylor said. “The race was in the heart of the city, which is always very fun with a good amount of people that come to watch. I started pretty close to how I wanted and not like I always do too which is too hard at the beginning.”
“In the race, the temperatures were up there,” Bryan Fletcher said. “At 2 p.m. in the day, it was hot and humid. I have to again commend the organizing committee as they had the fire department there to mist water on the skiers each lap.
“Performance wise, our team skied well,” he added. “We don’t put a ton of importance on racing well in these events. Our goals are set in the winter, and that’s when we want to perform. Obviously, we are giving it all we have out there but our shape is still coming.”
The Summer Grand Prix is part of a vital training period for the U.S. team, providing an opportunity to visit different jumping venues and get a sense of speed compared to the top teams in the sport.
“Summer Grand Prix is mainly a way to see how our summer training especially jumping has been,” said Head Coach Dave Jarrett. “Both Bryan and Taylor have had good summers on the jumping hill. Taylor has also been extremely fast in many of our test races too. I am excited to see how everyone stacks up.”
The FIS Summer Grand Prix continues this week in Tschagguns, Austria, before winding up next weekend with a pair of events in Oberstdorf, Germany.
Story provided by the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association News Bureau.
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