Steamboats Taylor Fletcher takes 23rd in Olympic large hill event |

Steamboats Taylor Fletcher takes 23rd in Olympic large hill event

Taylor Fletcher earned 26th and 24th at a World Cup competition in Ramsau, Austria, in 2020. He finished 23rd at the Olympic large hill event on Tuesday. (Photo by Romina Eggert)

In frigid, sub-zero temperatures, the United States men’s Nordic combined team raced 10 kilometers to conclude the individual large hill event on Tuesday.

Race officials moved up the start of the race to avoid extreme cold, but with -19-degree Celsius readings, officials were one degree away from canceling the event.

Taylor Fletcher of Steamboat Springs had the fifth-fastest time on the course at the Zhangjiakou National Cross-Country Skiing Centre, finishing 23rd overall.

“I was hoping to be a little bit higher, but that’s the way things go sometimes,” he said. “I had a really good race, but I was just too far behind after the jumping.”

That is typical for Fletcher, who has always performed better on the course than on the jump, but he’s been working on that and was aiming for a top-20 finish in his final individual Olympic event.

Teammate Jared Shumate had the best finish of the four Americans, turning the 19th-best jump into a 17th place finish. Ben Loomis of Wisconsin finished 19th overall, and Fletcher wasn’t far behind them.

Rounding up the American men was Jasper Good of Steamboat Springs, who took 34th. Good jumped 115.5 meters, good for 36th. Good passed a couple of people in the 10K race. He didn’t participate in the normal hill, so the large hill was Good’s first competition of the 2022 Winter Games.

He’s spent the last week-plus staying in good competition shape in training jumps and sessions on the course.

Good was happy with his result, but would be happy to improve on it in the team event, which he may or may not compete in, at 1 a.m. MST Thursday.

“I wouldn’t say I’m satisfied,” he said. “I am happy with how I performed.”

Loomis, Shumate, Good and Stephen Schumann, who participated in the men’s normal hill last week, are leading the most successful American Nordic combined team since 2010. Fletcher said it’s been a joy to watch the younger athletes make such improvements.

“It’s awesome, and it kind of makes sense it took a little time to rebuild,” Good said. “There was a big gap in athletes since 2010. I think our team is only ascending.”

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