Fletcher shines at Continental Cup
Steamboat Springs — Considering his fate in a pair of December Nordic combined Continental Cup starts in the United States, Taylor Fletcher reluctantly admitted they were a bit of a letdown.
U.S. skiers had won home-soil Continental Cups 10 times, racked up 16 podiums and 34 top-10 finishes in the previous five years alone.
He finished fifth and eighth, but coming down from the World Cup, he had been hoping for better.
“Yes, I would have liked to have won one of those,” he said.
At the time, he was doing everything he could to manufacture a turnaround to his season, which was off to a slow start.
Saturday, racing on the Continental Cup for the first time since that lackluster performance in Park City, Utah, Fletcher proved yet again that he’s more than turning around, he’s straight up facing the other direction. He won a race on the circuit in Ramsau, Austria, jumping to 21st, then racing to make up a 1-minute, 22-second disadvantage and winning by 9.4 seconds.
He hung with a pack for much of the race, then kicked into the lead on the last lap, earning himself plenty of room to celebrate as he crossed the finish line.
“I knew I had a chance but it was within grasp on the second lap when we caught the leaders,” Fletcher said from Austria. “I really tried to stay in the pack and not lead as I am not the best at that and always try to drop the rest. I skied a very tactical race going hard in certain places and easy in others. I had great skis and our B-team tech Tomas Matura did a great job, for sure.”
Fletcher finished ahead of second place Paul Gerstgraser of Austria and third-place Espen Andersen of Norway.
Adam Loomis was the next highest U.S. finisher in 20th. Ben Berend was 40th and Jasper Good was 46th.
Fletcher, Loomis and Berend will join Billy Demong and Bryan Fletcher, who didn’t race in the Continental Cup, at the FIS Nordic Ski World Championships in Falun, Sweden.
That event will kick off Wednesday with opening ceremonies, and Friday with the first Nordic combined event, an individual Gundersen start off the normal hill.
A four-man team event from the normal hill and featuring a 5-kilometer ski course for each racer will follow Feb. 24. The last individual event, off the large hill, is Feb. 26, and the final team event, a two-man sprint with 7.5K of skiing per person, is Feb. 28.
“To win in this competition with fast skiers and great jumpers is a good confidence booster as I head to world champs in Sweden,” Fletcher said.
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STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — Things are normally pretty quiet around the base area of Steamboat Resort this time of year, but a lot has happened since the ski area closed following the 2020-21 season.