Twenty-eighth in the jump was good enough for Taylor Fletcher, as the 24-year-old U.S. Nordic Combined skier rocketed to an individual podium for the second time in his World Cup career. His older brother Bryan Fletcher placed eighth for his third-straight top 10.
Park City hosted the first Nordic Combined Continental Cup of the season last week with jumping at Utah Olympic Park and the 10 k races at the Gorgoza tubing hill, moved there because of a lack of snow. Taylor Fletcher posted the two best U.S. performances in fifth and eighth place, followed by Billy Demong.
Back in April, July 31 seemed like dark cloud looming in the distance. But it wasn’t that far off, and fortunately for U.S. Nordic Combined, it wasn’t all that dreary. “Things are moving forward for sure, and it’s a little bit more hopeful than in April,” head coach Dave Jarrett says, explaining that he kept his job and hopes to have two other coaches and two wax techs help him this season.
U.S. Nordic Combined’s Bryan Fletcher was recently one of three new athlete representatives selected to the USSA Board of Directors. “For me the biggest thing that came out of congress was just knowledge of the positive development in our sport,” he explains, adding that his sport’s organizational structure is progressing forward each day.
U.S. Biathlon CEO Max Cobb says that it took four or five years for his organization to get on its feet after splitting from modern pentathlon in 1980 — but that whatever route U.S. Nordic Combined takes, the good news for them is that they have proven success and that direct fundraising tools have entered a whole new realm in the past few years.
In three Olympic competitions in Sochi, U.S. Nordic Combined didn’t end up with the fairy tale some had come to expect after the 2010 Vancouver Games. But with icons in Billy Demong and Todd Lodwick likely in their last Olympics, the story was more about the team closing one book and opening another.