Taylor Fletcher isn't getting faster. He already is the fastest, and on Sunday that led the Steamboat Springs Nordic combined skier to the best finish of his career and the best individual finish for the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team in a World Cup this season.
Fletcher jumped to 21st place, but flew through the field on the cross-country ski course and finished third overall in a World Cup event in Seefeld, Austria, just 2.9 seconds behind the day’s champ, Germany’s Eric Frenzel.
“Today was a great day and I am very, very excited,” Fletcher said in a team release. “Not only did I have my best place in the jumping, but also the first podium in the World Cup.”
The 21st place jump was Fletcher’s best of the season, and he capitalized on that. He started 1 minute, 28 seconds behind the jumping leader, passing 18 skiers to reach the podium. He finished nearly in a dead-heat with second-place finisher Mikko Kokslien, of Norway.
Fletcher had the fastest overall skiing time for the fourth time this season, finishing the 10-kilometer course in 23:54.8, 53 seconds faster than Frenzel.
“I am growing into the sport and becoming a great skier,” Fletcher said. “Now each day I can go on with a bigger heart and push it even more.”
The result was the best of Fletcher’s career, one-upping his previous best, which he recorded only the day before. He was fifth in a Saturday event, where he yet again recorded the day’s best time skiing and advanced from 28th place after the jump.
“Awesome day. Tay was good but that is the level he is at right now,” coach Dave Jarrett said. “His jumping is getting better and better so he is starting closer to the front. We know if he is within a minute 30, he has a chance.”
Bryan Fletcher finished 23rd after jumping 25th.
“Bryan was good today, too, but picked the wrong skis,” Jarrett said. "He is not jumping as well as he has been but skiing is getting better and better.”
Johnny Spillane rounded out the U.S. competitors with a 37th-place finish. He moved up after jumping 49th.