Steamboat Springs Scorching performances on the ski course have defined the season for U.S. Nordic combined team members Taylor Fletcher and Billy Demong, and the pair didn’t disappoint in that aspect Saturday, when they teamed up for the sprint, the final event of the World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy. A weak jumping round kept the pair at bay, however, limiting them to a sixth-place finish, well back of the world champion French with Sebastien Lacroix and Jason Lamy Chappuis.
“It was a hard one. We definitely weren't the happiest people after the jumping,” Fletcher said in a U.S. Ski Team news release. “We gave what we had.”
The U.S. team started 10th. Fletcher laid down the day’s fastest time on the 7.5-kilometer course, finishing in 17 minutes, 15.8 seconds. Demong skied the course in 18:06.7, setting the team up with the second-fastest ski time. That helped lift the pair past the Finnish, Estonian, Slovenian and Czech squads.
The U.S. started 1:41 behind the leading jumpers: the Germans.
That time “in a race like this is nearly impossible to make up. Bill and I put together a good race, and we made up a lot of time,” Fletcher said in the release. “At the end of my last leg, we were 45 seconds from third or second place, and that’s impressive in itself.”
The French jumped into fourth, then finished first, ahead of the second-place Austrians and third-place Germans. Japan was fourth, and Norway was fifth.
“It was a pretty good race for us,” Demong said. “We just need to get better on the jump.”
The U.S. team wrapped up the championships with one bronze medal scored in the four-man relay Feb. 24.
“This was a great World Championships for me, and to come back with a medal is a dream come true,” Fletcher said in the release. “I'm looking forward to the rest of the season and trying to steal a podium and move myself into the top 10.”
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com