Fletcher shines at World Champs venue | SteamboatToday.com

Fletcher shines at World Champs venue

Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club

Bryan Fletcher pieced together his most complete weekend of skiing this season, placing 15th one day and 16th the next in Lahti, Finland, on Saturday and Sunday on the Nordic combined World Cup.

Fletcher paired two middle-of-the-pack jumps with two sterling cross-country skiing performances for his first weekend of the season with two top-20 finishes.

He jumped to 22nd Saturday, then laid down the day's sixth-fastest ski time on the 10-kilometer course to make up seven spots. He then jumped to 28th Sunday and had the 12th-best ski time.

"The jump hill was another step in the right direction," Fletcher said Saturday in a U.S. Ski Team news release. "The jumping was made really tough today with strong winds, snow and really low speed. I was happy with my jumps, and I know I can continue to improve from here, still."

The fact that the results came on the site of next month's World Championships wasn't lost on Fletcher.

"It is very unique to visit Lahti just one month before World Championships," he said. "But it’s nice to be able to get some insight and experience on the hills before the actual champs. The jumping hill is definitely a hard hill but one that I have had some success on in my career, so I know it well and feel that I am comfortable with it. The cross country tracks are hard, which obviously suits my abilities when I am in shape."

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Fletcher's results were the highlight for the United States contingent. Ben Loomis placed 40th, overall, after jumping to 35th Saturday. He didn't start Sunday's race. Taylor Fletcher, meanwhile, fell near the back of the pack in the jumping qualification round for both events and didn't qualify to compete.

At the top of the results sheet, the Germans continued to dominate, again winning five of the weekend's six podium spots, including a sweep of the top-three positions in Sunday's race. That was their third sweep in the eight individual events so far this season. They've won 19 of the 24 podium spots and finished first in the only team event. Eric Frenzel, Saturday's champ, has won four of those eight races.

Now, the skiers head for three days of competition in Val di Fiemme, Italy, with individual events Friday and Sunday and a team relay wedged between on Saturday.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @JReich9