After a strong showing in the 2010 games in Vancouver (a gold and three silver medals) the U.S. Nordic combined team is looking for a bounce-back performance in PyeongChang after leaving the 2014 Sochi Games empty handed. Bryan Fletcher, the senior member of the U.S. team, improved those odds greatly with his a strong training jump on Monday.
Conditions have been extremely windy for the mountain events at this year’s games, cutting short qualifying runs of the ladies’ snowboard slopestyle competition and postponing the ladies’ giant slalom ski events Monday. High winds at the Alpensia Ski Jumping Center also canceled two of the three training jumps for Nordic combined over the past two days.
The one training jump athletes were able to complete Monday in advance of the individual normal hill (NH)/10-kilometer competition, set for Wednesday, had the 31-year-old Fletcher sitting in fourth place behind a trio of Germans. Fletcher’s jump of 101 meters earned him a score of 44.7, a sizable gap over Jason Lamy Chappuis of France (43.0) in fifth place and within striking distance of Vinzenz Geiger (45.4) in third place.
Bryan’s brother, Taylor, finished lowest among the Americans at 29th — although he is considered a much stronger skier than a jumper. Taylor’s 9.9 score came in just ahead of teammate Ben Berend at 10.0. Jasper Good scored a 12.7 on an 80-meter jump. Ben Loomis, the only member of the U.S. team not originally from Steamboat Springs, Colo., was second among the Americans with a score of 21.4 on a 77-meter jump, good for 19th overall.
Bryan Fletcher’s strong training jump on Monday came on the heels of a 24th-place jump in his first training run and a t23rd-place jump in his second run, both on Sunday. Each of his training jumps has been the best within that round among his U.S. teammates.
Three of the six training jumps so far have been cancelled, with three more scheduled for Tuesday before competition in the individual NH/10km on Wednesday.
Individual large hill (LH)/10-kilometer training runs begin on Saturday with the competition rounds scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 20. The team event — LH/4x5km — takes place on Thursday, Feb. 22.