Austria dominated the podium as Nordic Combined World Cup action continued in Germany. Felix Gottwald took first place clocking in 24:38.4, Mario Stecher was 15.6 seconds behind in second place, and Bernhard Gruber in third, 16.2 seconds behind Gottwald. Jason Lamy-Chappuis (FRA) who was first after the jumping, ended in 11th place overall.
Gottwald made a strong move on the last major climb of the course to open up a gap on his teammates and Jan Schmid (NOR).
Bryan Fletcher jumped well and started the cross-country in ninth place and 55 seconds behind Lamy-Chappuis, ready to battle the world for the podium. But the course wanted it differently, and rather than plucking racers off along the way, Fletcher damaged a pole early and played catch up from the 1K mark. He dropped to 31, almost two minutes behind the winner.
“Today was a bit bittersweet. I had a good jump and was very happy with my starting position. However I quickly ran into problems on the cross country,” Bryan Fletcher said to FasterSkier in an email.
“About 1 kilometer into the race I broke the basket on my pole. It was in the worst spot for it to happen. I had to ski almost another kilometer without a pole before I could get one. So that fried me quick. Afterwards I had to spend two laps recovering and relaxing before I could start working my way back up again,” Fletcher explained. However, Fletcher is moving on.
“Oh well, bad luck happens and my focus is now on Seefeld,” Fletcher said, taking away the highlight of the day: a good jump.
“I have a lot of confidence in my skiing so I am sure that with a good jump, I can be in there again. Today was just a very frustrating day, but it happens to everyone.
Rain and warm weather also added their share of challenges for the racers, especially on the cross-country course.
“The conditions were soft and warm, quite a change from out previous races. The course is pretty muddy but the organizers have done a good job keeping the course and the jump hill in good shape for the competitions with all the rain that has happened,” Fletcher said.
Tomorrow the US Nordic Combined team is entering the World Cup team competition, before moving on to the next World Cup events in Seefeld (AUT) January 14 to 16.
“For the team comps tomorrow I just want to have some fun and see what we as a team can accomplish. I will also be looking at how I can compare individually as well. It will be a good chance to work on some fine-tuning in competition before Seefeld,” Fletcher concluded.
The other Americans were Taylor Fletcher in 56th (3:18 behind), Brett Denney in 58th (3:45.4 behind) and Eric Camerota in 60th (3:58.8 behind). Complete results.
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.