Taylor Fletcher bursts out of the cross country start in the Olympic nordic combined venue near Sochi. (USSA-Margo Christiansen)
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia (Feb. 2) - Taylor Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) continued his strong surge posting the second fastest cross country time to finish fifth in the first Olympic test event of the 2014 nordic combined venue. Fletcher survived a raging blizzard during the jump to finish 15th, starting 1:16 behind and eventually coming within eight seconds during cross country. Austria's Bernhard Gruber took the win with Eric Frenzel of Germany second snapping his four-event win streak. A 4x5k team event is set for Sunday.
Taylor Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) posted the second fastest cross country time to take fifth in a FIS Nordic Combined World Cup on the Sochi Olympic venue.
Fletcher was one minute 16 seconds back in 15th after the jump. He quickly caught brother Bryan at the 2k mark, skiing together until tough conditions forced Bryan back to 15th. Taylor led the chase pack the entire race, closing the gap to eight seconds with two kilometers to go before Austria's Bernard Gruber and Germany's Eric Frenzel exploded to take first and second.
The course was characterized by grueling uphills with athletes skiing five laps of a 2k loop.
The Sochi Olympic venue is unique in that the cross country event will literally be in the same stadium as the jump, with the finish sharing the outrun.
A 4x5k team event is set for Sunday.
QUOTES Taylor Fletcher I skied a tactically a pretty good race. We had a strong group coming up ahead of us trying to catch us so I decided to take the lead. I've been racing pretty well so I was able to ski away.
The cross country course is very challenging. It's unrelenting out there. There's no rest at all so you have to ski smart and know what you're doing. Hopefully it suits me well next year and I can go out and ski my race like I know I can and challenge for the podium.
Sochi has done a lot of work to get this venue and events ready so I'm looking forward to what can happen next year. There would be nothing better in the world than standing on the podium with your brother – it's definitely a goal.
This is the first peek at the Winter Games here in Sochi. We got a good look at the hill and I think it's working really well for a couple of our guys. It's clear to the rest of us what we need to work on the jump hill. I think our team physically prepares really well for big competitions. My cross country form is coming and the Fletcher brothers are skiing really strong so I think we're looking right now to get a peek here and get ready for this mentally.