After two opening competitions in Oberwiesenthal, Germany, the International Ski Federation (FIS) Nordic Combined Summer Grand Prix 2017 continued this past week with three more individual comp days.
On Aug. 23, Tschagguns, Austria, hosted an individual normal hill/10-kilometer Gundersen start. Germany’s Fabian Rießle, after jumping to eighth place, won the event in 23:09.9 minutes. Austria’s Mario Seidl started first based on his jump but finished the 10 k just 0.3 seconds behind Rießle in second. Finland’s Ilkka Herola jumped to seventh and moved up four spots to round out the podium in third (+0.8).
The U.S. entered four skiers. Bryan Fletcher jumped to 40th and proceeded to ski the sixth-fastest time of day, enough to move himself up to 15th overall (+17.9). It was his best individual result of the series after placing 20th in Oberwiesenthal.
“Feels good to be racing again!” Fletcher wrote on Instagram after the race. “Lots of work to do before winter! But 15th place is closer than last week.”
Ben Berend finished the day in Tschagguns in 34th (+59.1), Taylor Fletcher 41st (+1:12.8), and Jasper Good in 58th (+3:02.7).
The Grand Prix took a day off and moved to Oberstdorf, Germany, for two days of jumping and skiing from Aug. 25-26. Day 1 featured an individual large hill/10 k Gundersen, where Germany’s Eric Frenzel, who barely missed the podium in Tschagguns in fourth place, took the win. Frenzel had previously jumped to first and later held off his contenders (with the sixth-fastest ski time) to cross the line in first in 25:27, more than 30 seconds clear of anyone else. German teammate Johannes Rydzek followed in second place (+34.5) just ahead of Austria’s Seidl in third (+36.0).
Taylor Fletcher was the top American in 25th (+2:33.5). He jumped to 44th place, but skied the fourth-fastest time of the day to move up the results list during the ski race. Bryan Fletcher jumped to 40th, skied the 12th-fastest ski time, and ended the day in 28th (+2:49.7). Berend finished 40th overall (+4:13.6), and Good 45th (+4:48.5).
During the second day of summer competition in Oberstdorf, Seidl took first place for his third podium of the week. He won the individual large hill/10 k Gundersen in 26:26.3. Seidl is proving a solid jumper — gaining enough time after to the jump to make up for his less-than top-10 ski speed. On this day, Seidl jumped to first place but skied the 26th-fastest ski time. Germany’s Rießle was second overall (+22.5), and Frenzel third (+22.7).
U.S. Nordic Combined Team skier Adam Loomis was the only American that raced the 10 k. He placed 28th overall (+2:51.8) after starting the race in 42nd and posting the 14th-fastest ski time. Taylor Fletcher and Berend were disqualified in the jump portion, and Bryan Fletcher jumped to 38th but did not start the 10 k.
On Instagram, Taylor Fletcher explained that he was the current red-bib leader for fastest overall skier.
“Part one of grand prix is done and dusted. It was a good test of where I am and where I could be with more consistent jumps,” he wrote. “The final day was good until my disqualification which was in my opinion was crap. I got disqualified for a guideline to a rule which almost every skier would be if they were tested. For the future we will fix the issue and continue fighting.”
Taylor Fletcher’s disqualification occurred on Aug. 18 in Oberweisenthal, Germany during a provisional competition round (PCR). Beyond the top-tier competition, the Summer Grand Prix offers the opportunity for athletes to test equipment and experience how new rules are enforced. One of the key rules has to do with suit permeability.
“I got DQ’d in the first PCR because my suit didn’t pass enough air,” Fetcher wrote in an email. “I wasn’t trying to cheat, but actually it was very warm and I was sweating pretty bad so a thin layer of moisture was on my suits which caused it to blow less air. The next day I passed it without doing anything to my suit.”
The perameters for suit fit have strict tolerances. Fletcher explained that the suits are allowed to be +3cm everywhere possible, but not over the set limit. Fletcher’s detailed account of why he was disqualified signifies the importance of attending the Summer Grand Prix series.
“I was disqualified because my shoulder/armpit was too big,” Fletcher explained. “We have never been tested there and I don’t think really anyone has. As long as the suit feels like it fits in the armpit, we feel that it is good. After the jump on the last day, I was selected for equipment control, I was sure I was good as I made some alterations to my suit the previous night to fix the places that were big (inside thigh). When I got to control I passed my crotch measurement and thought that was it. Then he started to measure my shoulder and armpit and I was shocked because I had never been tested there. He had me hold this triangle apperatus between my arm and hip then measured around that spot. He disqualified me for that spot being too big (20cm to big). There isn’t much I can do after he says you are out, I could file a protest, but that is just silly as these are summer comps and don’t count towards anything. My coaches went and talked with the equipment controller and he told them what is up and how to fix it, but continued to say that it is more of a guideline rather than a rule. We were angry, I was angry as I hate not racing but rather than wasting energy, I just packed my bags and got the hell out of dodge.”