(Photo Credit – Ben Pieper : Point Productions, LLC)
PARK CITY, UT – USA Nordic athlete Bryan Fletcher (Steamboat Springs) finished 7th yesterday at the World Cup in Trondheim, Norway. The competition was the last of Fletcher’s extensive and impressive career.
Conditions for the jumping were challenging, according to Head Coach Martin Bayer. “There was a lot of headwind at the take-off, and not much wind at the bottom,” said Bayer “but the competition was fair.”
Fletcher flew 128 meters on the HS140, landing him in a tie for 11th place after the round, just over a minute behind the leader after the jumping, Go Yamamoto from Japan.
“Bryan had a really good jump,” said Bayer. “Bryan was jumping really relaxed today. It was definitely the best jumping result of the season for Bryan.”
Going into the race Fletcher found himself surrounded by strong skiers, including Fabian Riessle of Germany and Eero Hirvonen of Finland. After only a few kilometers of racing, the first three skiers had come together and two chase packs had formed. Fletcher was in the second pack, containing places 6 through 12 for a majority of the race.
“The chasing group worked together really well, which meant Bryan didn’t have to lead the chase the whole race,” said Bayer. “We had really good skis today as well,” added Bayer, “which helped Bryan save some energy for the finish.”
“I’m very happy,” Fletcher said of the last result of his career. “This was the perfect way to end the day and end the career. Today I was able to fight for the podium. I didn’t quite have the legs I was hoping for at the end but, all in all, I’m not disappointed whatsoever.”
“Everything kind of came together for Bryan on his last day, and it was good for everyone to be able to support him and cheer” said Bayer. “It was really good see, but kind of sad as well. Bryan is our most consistent athlete and has been the team leader for a few years and now he’s going away. It’s a good day, a little sad, but a good day.”
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Fletcher has been a member of the US Nordic Combined team since 2006. After taking up the sport of Ski Jumping as a distraction from a childhood diagnosis of Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia, Fletcher made a career out of it. In that career Fletcher has made 159 World Cup starts. He’s been named to two Olympic teams and five World Ski Championship teams. His career highlights include 27 individual World Cup top ten’s, multiple Continental Cup podiums, and a win at the historic King’s Cup at the Holmenkollen in Oslo Norway, the biggest World Cup event of the season.
Going forward Fletcher intends to focus on school and family. Nearly three-quarters of the way through his undergraduate degree, Fletcher plans to finish school as soon as possible so that he can apply to Physician Assistant School. With school taking priority, Fletcher said that he and wife Nikki, as well as daughter Ellery, don’t have any big vacations planned in the near future besides a few weekend trips to see family in California and Colorado.
While Fletcher may be finished for the season, and forever, the season is not yet finished. There are still two World Cups coming up in Klingenthal, Germany, March 17-18 and Schonach, Germany, March 24-25. According to Coach Bayer, Taylor Fletcher, Ben Loomis, and Jasper Good, all of whom are currently on the World Cup circuit, will be joined by Stephen Schumann for the remaining World Cup competitions.