Last weekend’s World Cup team competition in Schonach (GER) was cancelled due to inclement weather, with the race scheduled for Friday in Seefeld (AUT) instead. That makes for a 3-race weekend for the World Cup crew, who will continue with the scheduled Gundersen 10K competitions on Saturday and Sunday.
“I am excited for this jam-packed weekend, it will be fun to have a team and two individuals in the same weekend,” Bryan Fletcher said in an email to FasterSkier.
Going into the races, Fletcher is optimistic. His jumping last weekend landed him a ninth place start position for the cross-country, only 59 seconds behind the leader. But after breaking a pole in the first kilometer of the course, Fletcher fell to 31st place overall. He has put the incident behind him, and focused on the fact that he delivered one of his best competition jumps at the race.
“I am just going to go out and continue on the same path I have been on,” said Fletcher, who posted an impressive eighth place in the World Cup in Ramsau last December. He is still sticking to his original season goal: establish himself consistently in the top 30.
“I will focus on what I need to do on the hill and hopefully it will be enough to end up in the top 20 or 10. However top 30 is still my goal. Any result inside the top 30 will be acceptable for me,” he said.
Soggy but surprisingly OK
“Training this week has been good,” Fletcher said, noting that conditions have been decent the last week, but looks grimmer for the weekend with rain on the horizon.
“The last couple days were really nice. Today not so much,” he continued, noting that last night’s wet snow turned into a steady rain that lasted all day. He also reported that the forecast is for less rain later in the weekend and that the snow is faster than you’d think given the soggy conditions.
“Surprisingly the snow is holding fairly well and it was still skiing pretty fast today. The forecast is predicting less rain, which will be a nice treat. So, for now we’ll hope for the best with the weather. Because next week is looking like it’s going to be another wet, rainy comp with little to no snow,” he added.
But weather is only one part of the equation. Add to that a difficult jumping hill, and the team has a fair set of challenges to conquer.
“The jumping will be hard. It’s a new hill and it’s a unique hill so it won’t be as easy to get the rhythm down. I will see how it goes however and move from there,” Fletcher said.
Just a step on the road to Oslo
Bryan’s brother Taylor is also dreaming about drier skies, but points out that it takes more than rain to derail the US Nordic Combined team.
“So far our new year’s competitions have been nothing but rain! But that won’t get our team down. We are the strongest team mentally,” Taylor Fletcher said to FasterSkier.
He is excited about the added competition and the opportunity to hone his skills on the course.
“For me, I am still working on the cross-country,” Taylor Fletcher said, noting that these races are still preparations for the season highlight: the Worlds in Oslo.
“I am working toward world championships and trying to get the speed up to the level I am happy with,” he said.
After the World Cup races in Seefeld, Taylor Fletcher will head to the COC events in Harrachov to try increase the US contingent to the Worlds.
“Hopefully, I can grab another COC podium or help one of my teammates get a podium, so we can have more guys in Oslo. I feel better, so I think this weekend will be 100 times better than last weekend,” Taylor Fletcher concluded.
Return of the veterans
Johnny Spillane, who has been recovering from injuries most of the fall, is also back on the World Cup circuit this weekend. Todd Lodwick is also returning to the World Cup circuit. He raced in the Ramsau events in December, where he posted a 4th place. Head coach Dave Jarrett is excited for the Seefeld competitions and the next World Cup in France.
“We are psyched to have Todd and Johnny joining the fray on World Cup for Seefeld and Chaux Neuve,” Jarrett said to FasterSkier.
“I’m looking forward to the competitions in Seefeld. We have a team event on Friday and two individuals on the weekend,” Jarrett said.
Additionally, the US Nordic Combined team is fielding three racers in the COC competitions in Klingenthal: Eric Camerota, Brett Denney and Nick Hendrickson.
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.