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Taylor Fletcher Rises to the Top, Achieves Nordic Combined Skier of the Year

Taylor Fletcher jumping earlier this year in Seefeld, Austria, where he was fifth and third for career bests on the World Cup. (Photo: Michael Ward)

Taylor Fletcher jumping earlier this year at the World Cup in Seefeld, Austria, where he was fifth and third for career bests on the World Cup. (Photo: Michael Ward)

A few years ago, distinguishing the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team’s veterans and newbies was relatively simple. On one side, you had the Olympic standouts – Billy Demong, Johnny Spillane and Todd Lodwick – then there were the Fletcher brothers: two promising youngsters with big goals and ambition to match.

Relative rookies, they hardly flew under the radar. Two years ago, Bryan broke through as the second American in the overall World Cup standings, placing 30th behind Lodwick in 28th. At age 24, the Steamboat Springs, Colo., native was named FasterSkier’s Nordic Combined Skier of the Year, and last season, he ranked 17th overall after topping the podium at World Cup Finals.

Taylor Fletcher - Nordic Combined Skier of the Year

Taylor Fletcher – Nordic Combined Skier of the Year

Not to be outdone by his older brother, Taylor, 22, rose from 36th overall last season to 16th in the World Cup standings this year. In late January, he notched his first World Cup podium in Seefeld, Austria, placing third in the individual normal-hill competition and shattered his career-best fifth from the day before.

A month later in Val di Fiemme, Italy, Taylor scrambled for the U.S. in the 4 x 5-kilometer team event at World Championships. There, he and his brother put their team in medal contention after the jumping portion, and Taylor made up 50 seconds on the leader to tag off in fifth. With Bryan, Lodwick and Demong, the U.S. men ultimately placed third for the nation’s first relay medal at World Championships.

“For sure, that was our goal,” U.S. head coach Dave Jarrett said at the awards ceremony. “We could’ve won as easily as gotten fifth, so to split the difference and get a medal is awesome.”

Performances like the Fletcher brothers’ made the difference (paired with Demong’s impressive anchor leg), he added, and at this point, they weren’t surprising.

“We knew [Taylor] was capable of doing this and now he’s showing he’s able to do it, too,” Jarrett said in Seefeld.

“I made it onto the big stage with some of the better skiers and now I know I can do it on any given weekend,” Fletcher said at the time. “I know my jumping can be better and the cross-country is just getting better and better, so I’m very excited.”

medal-final-layer-2013

Previous Winners:

2011

Bryan Fletcher (USST)

2010

U.S. Nordic Combined Team

2009

Billy Demong (USST)

 

See also:

Breakthrough Skier of the Year

Continental Skier of the Year

Junior Skier of the Year

Rookie of the Year

Collegiate Skier of the Year

About Alex Kochon

Alex Kochon (formerly Matthews) is the managing editor at FasterSkier and to most people's surprise, not a guy. When she's not writing, you can find her outdoors in upstate New York or doing the gym thing as a certified personal trainer. Follow her on Twitter @active_alex.

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