Steamboat Springs Olympian Taylor Fletcher returns home for Continental Cup victory
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — There’s no place like home.
Steamboat Springs’ own Taylor Fletcher, a name followed by “three-time Olympian” over the loudspeaker, coasted to an easy first-place finish in the first Continental Cup competition on Friday, Dec. 14, at Howelsen Hill.
1. Taylor Fletcher, USA
2. Paul Gerstgraser, AUT
3. Bernhard Flaschberger, AUT
15. Ben Berend, USA
24. Grant Andrews, USA
41. Bennett Gamber, USA
Find full results after the competition at SteamboatPilot.com.
Fletcher hasn’t competed in an international competition in Steamboat since December 2006, and his last competition in Steamboat was the Olympic trials in 2009.
“I always love coming home to Steamboat,” Fletcher said. “This is where I grew up. Training on these trails brings me back to these memories when I rode the bus back from school over here to come train for a couple of hours, freeze your butt off and parents come pick you up.”
It’s a solemn homecoming for Fletcher, who lost his father, Tim Fletcher, to ALS this September. But it gave him more to win for.
“I would love to call him,” Fletcher said. “But at the same time, he’s here. It’s really cool. His presence is so strong, and to have that is really important. He was there with me the whole entire race, and that’s amazing.”
Following behind Fletcher were fellow Steamboat USA Nordic athletes Jasper Good, ninth; and Ben Berend, 15th; and Grant Andrews, 24th.
The Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club’s Bennett Gamber also finished in 41st place.
“Our goal here is to get a wild card spot in the World Cup for our team,” Fletcher said. “So we can have another paid World Cup spot for our athletes. Makes our budget a little bit cheaper. We have this opportunity because the World Cup is in a little while. We were able to send a team home to compete here.”
The next Continental Cup will be Wednesday, Dec. 19, and Thursday, Dec. 20, in Park City, Utah. The next World Cup will be in Austria on Dec. 22, but Fletcher has his eyes on the World Championships in February 2019.
Fletcher has been working on the fine details of his jump, being able to push off the jump at the right time with more power to generate speed and distance. He felt that his jump Friday, which put him at a start one minute and three seconds behind the leader, was close to where he wanted it to be.
Fletcher wasn’t sure where he’d be on the cross country race, saying his previous races in Norway at the start of the season weren’t his best, but the hard work has brought back his groove.
“My goal is to just have fun,” Fletcher said. “I don’t care so much about results anymore. If I’m having fun, the results will be there and that’s important.”
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