Todd Lodwick was eighth in Sunday’s World Cup competition in Chaux Neuve (FRA), after jumping to start the cross-country in third place. Bryan Fletcher could easily have been top 10 on Saturday if the margins were on his side, Johnny Spillane is consistently jumping better and returning to race shape, and Bill Demong is showing promising colors. This was the final World Cup weekend before the World Championships in Oslo next month.
“Four guys in the top 30 is always a good day, for sure we wanted to be in the top half with everyone too. Things are coming together more and more,” said US Nordic Combined head coach Dave Jarrett after the competitions in France.
Jarrett’s conclusion on the weekend’s events is that things are on track.
“Todd jumped well but didn’t finish the race strongly. He was out of gas the last lap. Bryan had a great trial jump but his comp jump was a bit below his average. The good thing is that he now able to score points in a full-strength World Cup with a below average day. Johnny had a better day, jumping is coming slowly each jump and racing is coming around too. Billy is still looking for the loving feeling on the hill. Skiing is coming too,” Jarrett said to FasterSkier, summarizing the weekend in France.
Now the team is returning to base in Park City, Utah, to make sure all their i’s dotted and their t’s are crossed before heading back across the pond for the Worlds.
“We are going home now to get ready for Oslo and show up with our full Mojo,” said Jarrett.
Bryan Fletcher, who has moved in, established and defended his position in the top 30 on the World Cup this season, is excited about the upcoming championships. This last World Cup weekend helped his confidence.
“The weekend was a success, not on any huge level for me, but I am happy with my results. Things felt good this weekend my jumping was on par with what I was hoping for and my cross-country felt strong,” Fletcher said in an email to FasterSkier.
“The first day I surprised myself and was able to ski up to 13th place only to hit a wall on the last hill and lost my pack falling back to 21st place. However I was happy with my race over all it was a solid step to build some confidence,” the 24-year-old said.
Jarrett is also encouraged by Fletcher’s performance, and points out that his preliminary jump was particularly good, landing him an 18th place. Saturday Fletcher was 24th in the jumping and 21st overall.
“With just a few more meters he could have been top 10 again today. Anyway, he jumped well and skied well. He was in a group with some fast guys so it was hard to make up places. Solid nonetheless,” Jarrett noted.
Sunday Fletcher ran into bad conditions on the jump hill but still pulled off a decent jump and started the cross-country in 34th place, two minutes behind Jason Lamy-Chappuis (FRA) who went ahead and won the competition on home turf. Solid performance on the course landed him in 27th place overall, securely within his own season goal of consistent top 30 results on the World Cup.
“The second day I had some adverse conditions on the jump hill. However was able to put an OK jump together and had another solid race. I didn’t feel quite as good as the first day, but I was able to ski into points, which is tough from my starting position. I ended up 27th place,” Fletcher explained.
From here it’s all about getting ready for the World Championships.
“There will be lots of training to gear up (for the Worlds),” Fletcher said, adding that he is looking forward to the process.
“I will be focusing on fine-tuning the things that are limiting me from being in the top 10. I will also be taking the time to gain some much needed rest and relaxation,” Fletcher said to FasterSkier.
Fletcher is also planning on racing into shape by participating in some races on home turf and some longer efforts, including the 32-kilometer Boulder Mountain Tour in Sun Valley, Idaho.
“I plan on doing a couple races as well when I am home. The biggest race will be the Boulder Mountain Tour. The BMT has always been a fun race for me, and having missed it last year I am looking forward to being able come back and ski this year. I find it’s always fun to mix it up a little bit with the other skiers,” Fletcher concluded.
The first Nordic Combined race at the World Championships in Oslo is on February 26.
Complete results from Saturday’s World Cup in Chaux Neuve here.
Complete results from Sunday’s World Cup event here.
Taylor Fletcher: COC in Harrachov (CZE)
Bryan Fletcher’s brother had a job to do with the US Nordic Combined team on the Continental Cup circuit and executed according to plan.
“It was a very successful trip for me! Not only did I score World Cup points, but I am now three for three on COC podiums this year,” Taylor Fletcher in an email to FasterSkier. The 20-year-old has raced with the World Cup crew for much of the winter. Just like his brother, Taylor Fletcher found the final major event weekend before the Worlds to provide extra confidence.
“I felt like this weekend was a very motivating weekend. I told (head coach) Dave Jarrett what I wanted to do, and went and did just that. It is a major confidence-builder as we are heading to Oslo,” Taylor Fletcher said.
Leading up to the Worlds, he will be paying attention to the details and honing his peak, as well as just getting some more raw volume under his belt. Taylor Fletcher is also trying to dial his match weight for optimal performance, something that matters more on the hill than on the course.
“I’ll be training a lot building up my intensity making sure I am the fastest I possibly can. I will do at least one race and possibly the Boulder Mountain Tour. But I will also slim down a little more and try to get to 65 kilos before Oslo to optimize my performance on the jump hill,” Taylor Fletcher said.
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.