Green grass, plastic jumping surfaces, big jumps, sunshine, rollerskis and no snow means one thing. It’s August in Europe and it’s time for the International Ski Federation (FIS) Nordic Combined Summer Grand Prix 2017.
Last weekend Aug. 19-20, Oberwiesenthal, Germany hosted a two-day Grand Prix event.
Day 1 featured a two-person team event with the requisite jump and 2 x 7.5-kilometer cross-country race to determine the winners.
Czech Republic’s first team (Czech Republic I), comprised of Tomas Portyk and Dvorak Miroslav, won the team competition in 28:52.9 after starting fourth, 11 seconds behind first. Germany I’s Fabian Rießle and Eric Frenzel raced to second (+0.3), and Germany II’s Jakob Lange and Vinzenz Geiger placed third (+11.2).
The U.S. had two teams entered. Bryan Fletcher and Taylor Fletcher (U.S. II) placed 12th (+2:37.0) while Jasper Good and Ben Berend (U.S. I) finished 14th (+3:03.5).
Day 2 of racing was an individual normal hill/10 k Gundersen start.
Austria’s Mario Seidl claimed the win in 25:18.5 after jumping to first and starting the 10 k four seconds ahead of Japan’s Akito Watabe in second. Germany’s Frenzel raced from ninth to second (+10.5), after starting 46 seconds after Seidle. Rießle finished third (+12.3), up from fifth in the jump, while Watabe narrowly missed the podium in fourth (+14.2).
Four U.S. skiers competed on Sunday, and Taylor Fletcher led them at the end of the day in 11th (+1:17.6) after jumping to 33rd and starting 2:01 minutes behind Watabe. Bryan Fletcher finished 20th, Berend 33rd, and Good 34th.
In an Instagram post, Taylor Fletcher described his first individual race of the series.
“First individual race in the books. I had a decent jump in a hard competition,” he wrote. “I started 33rd and ended up finishing 11th. I had a lot more to give but I thought I had another lap (I wish we did) before the coach said this was the last lap. Now @USAnordic is on the way to the next leg ready for another crack at it!!”
The Summer Grand Prix continues Aug. 23 with another normal hill/10 k in Tschagguns, Austria, and concludes in Oberstdorf, Germany, with back-to-back large hill/10 k competitions Aug 25-26.
Jason lives in Bend, Ore., and can often be seen chasing his two boys around town. He’s a self-proclaimed audio geek. That all started back in the early 1990s when he convinced a naive public radio editor he should report a story from Alaska’s, Ruth Gorge. Now, Jason’s common companion is his field-recording gear.