Nordic

Crash Dashes Fletcher's Medal Hopes

by
Tom Kelly
2017-02-24 08:34
 

LAHTI, Finland (Feb. 24, 2017) – Germany swept the medals in the opening nordic combined event at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships with Johannes Rydzek taking gold. American Bryan Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) saw his medal hopes dashed just 200 meters from the finish when a crash took him out of medal contention.

Fletcher soared in the morning jumping round, finishing 16th with a 93.5-meter jump putting him 56 seconds back. More notably, Germany’s Eric Frenzel and eventual gold medalist Rydzek were in a group by themselves, with a pack of 16 skiers between 24 and 58 seconds back to battle for bronze. Ben Berend (Steamboat Springs, CO) also had a strong jump, standing 22nd with a 92.0-meter ride putting him a minute, nine seconds out.


Fletcher put down a strong jump in the morning before the 10k. (Getty Images-Richard Heathcote)

“Jumping was good – it was really a good start to the day,” said Fletcher. “I knew that I could be in contention on this hill. I was confident going in that I could put down a good jump.”

In the 10k cross country, Frenzel and Rydzek shared the work from the start, skiing together until the final lap when Rydzek made a clear breakaway to repeat as World Champion in the normal hill event.

While the two Germans were playing cat and mouse, a huge pack formed in hunt for the bronze medal. Fletcher hung towards the back for the first two of four laps. On the third 2.5k leg, he moved his way up to take a position in the lead, coming through the stadium for a final time. As the race intensity picked up, Fletcher held his position on the front line, in a tactically strong position to challenge in the final stretch. But coming into the stadium on a hairpin downhill turn, he lost an edge and slid out – dropping from medal contention to 14th place in an eyelash.

“I knew it was going to be a hard cross country race because it was so tight and pack racing is always so difficult,” said Fletcher. “You’re not only fighting for position, but anything can happen. That’s exactly what happened to me today. I did really well in the pack and when I thought I had it locked up, I let my guard down and slipped out on a corner.”


Taylor Fletcher had a tough jump, but a fast ski to take 21st overall. (Getty Images-Matthias Hangst)

Bryan’s brother Taylor Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) found himself well back after the jump – a bitter disappointment. But he skied his way from 47th up to 21st with the third fastest cross country time.

The combined team is back in action Sunday with the 4x5k relay.

HIGHLIGHTS

  • Bryan Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) led the USA in 15th at the opening Nordic combined event at World Championships, crashing 200 meters from the finish while in contention for bronze.
  • Germany swept the medals, led by gold medalist Johannes Rydzek, taking the top four spots.
  • Nordic combined action resumes Sunday with the 4x5k relay

U.S. Finishers
14 – Bryan Fletcher
21 – Taylor Fletcher
33 – Adam Loomis
41 – Ben Berend


Ben Berend jumped to 22nd. (Getty Images-Matthias Hangst) 

QUOTES

Bryan Fletcher
Jumping was good – it was really a good start to the day. I knew that I could be in contention on this hill. I was confident going in that I could put down a good jump.

I knew it was going to be a hard cross country race because it was so tight and pack racing is always so difficult. You’re not only fighting for position, but anything can happen. That’s exactly what happened to me today. I did really well in the pack and when I thought I had it locked up, I let my guard down and slipped out on a corner.

I wanted to be towards the front going into the last hill and out of trouble so I had a clear opportunity in the sprint at the end.

Today was a little bit of bad luck but the ingredients are there and hopefully I can put it together

RESULTS
Nordic Combined HS100m/10k Gundersen