Lake Placid, N.Y. – On Friday, Dec 24th, Taylor Fletcher took first place in the Nordic Combined competition at the Olympic Team Trials in Lake Placid, New York, to achieve published criteria for Olympic selection to be named to Team USA for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games.
Continuing on Saturday, Dec.25th, Kevin Bickner and Anna Hoffmann carded first place finishes in the Men’s and Women’s Ski Jumping competition at the Olympic Team Trials. Bickner will join Fletcher, achieving the criteria for Olympic selection to be named to Team USA for the 2022 Olympic Winter Games. The United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee (USOPC) will officially name Team USA in late January 2022.
Friday started off at the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex, where Ben Loomis soared 95 meters (125.5 pts) to win the jumping portion of the event, giving him the lead going into the cross country-race. Jasper Good was close behind with a 92 meter jump (117 pts), which gave him a 34 second backlog behind Loomis. Good was followed by Jared Shumate in third with a 91.5 meter jump (116.5 pts, +36 sec). Fletcher then placed fourth with an 89 meter jump, giving him 111.5 points and a 56 second backlog to Loomis.
The day continued for the second half of the competition at Mt. Van Hoevenberg for the 10km cross-country race. Fletcher closed the gap early, catching up to Good and Shumate after the first lap. In the third lap, Fletcher met with Loomis, closing the 56 second gap, as the two went head to head. The duo battled hard in the final lap, with Loomis and Fletcher going back and forth for the lead. In the end, Fletcher came out on top around the last stretch, achieving published criteria for Olympic selection to go to his fourth Olympic Games and winning his first ever Olympic Team Trials. Fletcher finished the 10km course in 24:14, Loomis in second at 24:26.3, with Shumate capturing third place at 24:58.7.
“I’ve worked my entire career to make it to the Olympics, and to have the best results that I can at the Olympics. Even though there were good years, I just never had the performance. Today was a difficult day, I didn’t have my best jump and I’m capable of a lot more,” said Fletcher. “But, I didn’t have the worst jump and I was in the hunt from the start. I knew that I needed a good race in order to catch Ben and Jared, they have been skiing very well and pushing me all summer long. It came down to the last hill and that was the make or break moment, I went as hard as I could and was able to come away with the win.
“It was an incredibly exciting competition, from the jump hill to the cross-country course. The depth of the field was one of the highest that I have ever seen at Olympic Team Trials, which is great for the future of the sport,” said Executive Director Bill Demong. “I’m especially excited for Taylor Fletcher, this is his first time winning Olympic Team Trials and he has now qualified himself and achieving published criteria for Olympic selection to go to his fourth Olympic Games. Taylor executed perfectly today, as he took a huge gap that he had to make up on Ben Loomis. This makes me really excited for him going into the Games in February.”
Olympic Team Trials then continued on Saturday, starting with Men’s Ski Jumping at the Olympic Ski Jumping Complex. Kevin Bickner opened up the first round with a 96 meter jump (128.5 pts), setting the pace for the day’s competition. Decker Dean then followed with a 92.5 meter jump (118.5 pts), putting him in second place. Casey Larson added a 91 meter jump (113.5 pts), putting him in third place and setting the stage for the final round.
Larson started the second round with a 91.5 meter jump (229 total pts), putting him in first place, and in the hot seat as he waited for Dean and Bickner’s final jump. Dean was then able to best his first jump, going 95 meters (244 total pts), passing Larson for first place. Bickner then solidified his first place victory, with a 96.5 meter jump (257 total pts), achieving published criteria for Olympic selection to go to his second Olympic Games
“There is a lot of work that went into this. Over the past year, I’ve been coming back from some time off and get back to where I was a couple years ago. I’m super excited to be going back to the Olympics,” said Bickner. “It has been a little bit more difficult this time around and I knew this was going to be an important event to win to secure that spot.”
“Today’s ski jumping event was fantastic. They were a couple of really highly contested competitions for the top spots. Kevin Bickner pulled out a major, surprise victory to secure his second Olympic berth,” said Executive Director Bill Demong.
Women’s Ski Jumping then wrapped up the day’s competition for Olympic Team Trials. Logan Sankey started the first round off with an 88 meter jump (107 pts), setting the mark for her teammates. Anna Hoffmann followed with an 85.5 meter jump (101.5 pts), putting her in second place (92.5 pts) for the final round. Annika Belshaw was close behind in third, as she added an 81 meter jump of her own.
Belshaw started the second round by besting her first jump, tallying an 88.5 meter jump (200.5 total pts) to put her in the hot seat for first place. Sankey followed with another 88 meter jump (214 total pts), as she took the lead and waited for Hoffmann’s final jump. Hoffmann was then able to card a 90.5 meter jump (214.5 total points) as she cemented her first place finish, barely passing Sankey to win the Olympic Team Trials for Women’s Ski Jumping.
“It has been a long road to get here. I’ve been ski jumping for nineteen years and it is really exciting to win the Olympic Team Trials,” said Hoffmann “It has been a great time, and it is just really exciting to have such great teammates who cheer each other on and have a good time together.” Anna Hoffmann
Anna Hoffmann narrowly passed Logan Sankey by just a half of a point, it was so close that we had to wait for calculations to come back to know who took the victory,” said Executive Director Bill Demong. “I’m proud of all of the athletes for how well they competed in Lake Placid, in front of a huge crowd. It was a fantastic competition for everyone, onward to Beijing.”