When Taylor Fletcher flies just a bit farther on the jumping 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. It’s not the first time he’s been the fastest skier in the field, and this time he shrunk a 1:31 starting handicap down to 25 seconds off of Eric Frenzel’s winning time.
With Friday’s result, Fletcher has posted a fifth-place finish three times this season, demonstrating a consistency he hopes to maintain in Saturday’s final race and down the road.
“I am very happy because I have been consistently racing well all year and to finish off the second to last race at the position is great, especially at Holmenkollen,” Fletcher said.
His multiple top-fives and a third-place finish, all thresholds he only crossed for the first time this year, have given him confidence for every time he gets on the cross-country course.
“In the cross country I am always confident I can move up, as if your not you probably won’t,” Fletcher said.
His approach held true in the slow conditions that greeted competitors in Olso on Thursday. Fletcher started off quickly in his pursuit of the leaders and was soon passing the skiers in front of him.
“I went out pretty quick from the stadium but stayed controlled on the hills for the first laps,” he said. “The new snow was pretty slow and you needed to be controlled. But these conditions are better for me.”
Though pleased with his “solid jump” and a better 10 k than anyone else, Fletcher wants to move further up in Saturday’s competition.
“I am very happy with my result but there were parts of the race I could do better,” he said. “I am looking forward to tomorrow as I have five extra kilometers to make up time and hopefully I can jump as well as I did today.”
Fletcher led three teammates in Oslo on Friday, two of whom were in the top fifteen. His older brother, Bryan, was 11th (+59.6), Billy Demong finished 15th (+1:09.2) and Todd Lodwick was 37th (+3:08.0).
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Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.