After reaching the World Cup podium and helping his team land a historic bronze at World Championships, Taylor Fletcher is FasterSkier’s Nordic Combined Skier of the Year at the age of 22.
When Taylor Fletcher jumps just a bit farther on the hill it will be a frightening day for nordic combined world. In the penultimate World Cup of the season on Friday in Oslo, Norway, the 22-year-old skied the fastest 10 k time of the day by 17 seconds to move from 23rd after the jumping competition to fifth at the end of the cross-country race. Fletcher led three Americans in the top 15.
The classic races of World Championships took place in Val di Fiemme: interval start, relay, marathon. Biathletes competed in Oslo, Americans held their own in Slavic Cup action, and Swedes (and everyone else) gave it their all in the Vasaloppet. Summaries of the action, along with links to reporting and results.
Weekly Race Roundup: Golden Americans, Historic Bronze for Harvey and NoCo, Another Birkie in the Books
Marit Bjørgen of Norway and Nikita Kriukov of Russia both have two gold medals to their names so far this Championships, and Dario Cologna finally got the title he’s been search for; but Americans made a splash too, in every discipline, with Sarah Hendrickson winning jumping, Kikkan Randall and Jessie Diggins the team sprint, and the nordic combined team bronze in the team event. Alex Harvey also made history when he took bronze in the classic sprint, the first individual World Champs medal for Canada.
The top American result to come out of Europe on Saturday? Taylor Fletcher’s career-best fifth-place finish in Seefeld, Austria. With a jump that put him in 28th going onto the cross-country course, Fletcher skied within two seconds of the podium, posting the fastest course time by 18 seconds in the process.
After the Tour de Ski, cross country skiers took a rest while the sprinters returned to the fore, with perennial favorites Teodor Peterson (sprint) and Maiken Caspersen Falla (team sprint) taking wins in Liberec; new faces also rose to the top, like Mona-Liisa Mahlvaleto of Finland in the women’s sprint. In biathlon, Martin Fourcade is back to himself and Tora Berger won the mass start on the same course she took her World Championship title last year. Domestic racing was on pause.
It’s no exaggeration to say that this might have been the busiest week of the year to be a North American ski fan. With the Tour de Ski practically every day, U.S. Nationals, and some big NorAms used to determine junior and U23 trip rosters, plus biathlon and nordic combined, here are the highlights.
Norway’s Petter Northug and Marit Bjørgen won World Cup mini-tours, while Tora Berger swept three biathlon races; JP Le Guellec made history for Canada by winning a biathlon World Cup. In North America, exciting racing in Bozeman and Canmore helped national teams decide which athletes to send to the upcoming Quebec and Canmore World Cups.