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Steamboat sweeps Nordic combined nationals podium

Taylor Fletcher crosses the finish line Saturday during the U.S. Nordic Combined National Championships in Utah, winning his first national championship. Bryan Fletcher was second and Ben Berend third.
Courtesy/U.S. Ski Team

2016 U.S. Nordic Combined Championship results

Place, name, jump rank, time

1 Taylor Fletcher, 5, 23:14

2 Bryan Fletcher, 3, 23:21

3 Ben Berend, 1, 23:46

4 Adam Loomis, 4, 24:31

5 Ben Loomis, 2, 25:12

6 Stephen Schumann, 6, 26:52

7 Jasper Good, 7, 27:50

8 Jared Schumate, 9, 28:18

9 Grant Andrews, 8, 28:52

10 Koby Vargas, 10, 30:01

11 Elijah Vargas, 12, 30:59

12 Somer Schorck, 14, 31:47

13 Decker Dean, 11, 32:12

14 Tucker Hoefler, 13, 32:57

Year by year U.S. Nordic Combined Championship results

2016

1st Taylor Fletcher

2nd Bryan Fletcher

3rd Ben Berend

2015

1st Bryan Fletcher

2nd Adam Loomis

3rd Taylor Fletcher

2014

1st Bryan Fletcher

2nd Taylor Fletcher

3rd Adam Loomis

2013

1st Billy Demong

2nd Taylor Fletcher

3rd Bryan Fletcher

2012

1st Todd Lodwick

2nd Johnny Spillane

3rd Taylor Fletcher

2011

1st Billy Demong

2nd Johnny Spillane

3rd Bryan Fletcher

2010

1st Brett Camerota

2nd Todd Lodwick

3rd Billy Demong

— It wasn’t just the fact that he won, Taylor Fletcher said, though, the newly minted United States Nordic Combined national champion was plenty proud of that.

He’d tallied a podium finish in each of the last four years, but all second- and third-place showings. On Saturday, at the U.S. Nordic Combined National Championships in Park City, Utah, he broke through. The Steamboat Springs-born, two-time Olympian skied up from a fifth-place jump to edge out older brother Bryan Fletcher, eventually second, and fellow Steamboater Ben Berend, third, to win his first national championship.

“To finally be able to say I’m a national champion,” Taylor Fletcher said, “that’s nice.”

Nearly as important to him as that result, though, were those of his teammates. The competition this summer was stronger than it’s been in years, Fletcher said, and that proved as gratifying as anything else.

“It was the whole team,” he said. “Our young guys, only one didn’t have a fantastic day, and even he’s shown this summer what he’s capable of on a good day.”

One of the Fletchers has ended up on the podium every season since 2011, and this marked the fourth consecutive year they’ve both been there.

This year, it was Berend pushing hardest to join them. For much of the race, he was actually hoping to not just challenge them but to beat them.

Berend led after the jumping portion of the day and went into the 10-kilometer ski race with a 20-second lead on the field. Bryan Fletcher sat in third place, 30 seconds back, and Taylor in fifth, 1:02 back.

Berend led through much of the race, up until late in the third lap, with Team Fletcher closing the gap. The trio raced together for much of the rest of the race.


“That was definitely a new experience for me,” Berend said. “I’ve never really been there at the end of a race with those guys, or guys at that level. It was a little surreal.”

“Going into the last hill, I was still right with them,” he said in a news release. “For a slight moment a thought crossed into my mind, ‘I’m going to try and beat these guys.’ Pretty much at that second, Bryan and Taylor absolutely took off and left me limping along in their dust.”

Taylor rocketed away and cruised to what was a seven-second victory. Bryan followed, leaving Berend to finish 23 seconds further back.

“I really dug deep,” Taylor said. “I got away and was able to hold that gap to the finish line.”

Adam Loomis was fourth, 45 seconds behind Berend, and his brother Ben Loomis was fifth. Stephen Schumann finished sixth and Steamboat’s Jasper Good seventh. Other Steamboat finishers included Grant Andrews, ninth, Koby Vargas, 10th, Elijah Vargas, 11th, and Decker Dean, 13th.

Young Steamboaters represented in Utah

The Nordic combined nationals only made up a part of the week’s action in Park City. That event capped the action at the Springer Tournee, a week of ski jump and Nordic combined training in Park City.

It also featured the ski jumping national championships, and there, Steamboat was also well represented.

Logan Sankey, a June graduate from Steamboat Springs High School, placed third in the women’s ski jumping competition off the HS134 hill, behind Jessica Jerome, national champ for the 13th time, and second-place finisher Cara Larson.

“That’s a good, solid result for her,” Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club coach Todd Wilson said. “She’s really tight in there with the other girls.”

Will Rhoads, of the U.S. men’s jumping team, won the men’s national championship, ahead of Kevin Bickner, in second, and Casey Larson, in third. Bryan Fletcher finished fifth in that competition, Ben Loomis sixth, Berend seventh and Taylor Fletcher eighth.

Sankey was fourth off the HS100, and Annika Belshaw ninth. 
Hana Shrock was second off the HS68 among U16 girls and Belshaw fourth.

Niklas Malacinski was second among U14 boys off the HS42. Alexa Brabec won the U14 girls jump off the HS42.

Steamboat then registered five of the top 10 athletes off the HS20 hill. Jason Colby was third, Charlie Reisman sixth, Koen Stroock seventh, Wyatt Graves ninth and Kade Lawton 10th. Thomas Miller was just one spot out, placing 11th.

“That’s just good news for the future,” Wilson said. “We’ve got a really locked-in, solid group.

“This is a big indicator week for our sport,” Wilson continued. “Last year we took 14 athletes. This year, we had 25. That’s not the end-all indicator. It’s not a goal, but it shows a positive moving of the needle for us. We were really psyched to have that many kids and families go and see the bigger picture in the sport.”

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9


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