It was a busy weekend for USA Nordic. From World Cup action in three different countries, to Continental Cups at home and abroad, there was plenty to keep us all running at full speed.
Bryan Fletcher kicked off the weekend right, with his first top ten World Cup finish of the season. A strong jump and a smart race carried Bryan to a 7th place finish in Ramsau, Austria -the best result for the veteran skier so far this year.
The day began with shifting conditions on the hill. Fletcher was pulled from the bar twice before finally being able to jump. Going into the race, Fletcher found himself tied for 28th, but he was just over a minute behind the leader. Ramsau is known to create packs on the cross country course, and as he packs formed, Fletcher used them to his advantage. A final push in the fourth lap gave him the separation he needed to assure a top ten finish.
On Sunday, good weather in the qualification round gave way to wind and snow in the competition round. All three Americans, including Taylor Fletcher and Adam Loomis who didn’t race the day before, had better jumps on Sunday morning. But when the round was cancelled, all athletes raced off of the results of the provisional round held on Friday.
Bryan was the top American again on Sunday, skiing from 45th to 14th. Taylor had a great race as well, turning in the second fastest time, and finishing 34th. Loomis looked strong in his first World Cup of the year, but an ill-timed fall on a downhill corner midway through the race forced him to ski much of the race on his own.
This week, the team is back in the states for the holidays. Next weekend, our Nordic Combined athletes will compete for a spot on the 2018 Olympic team at the US Olympic Trials in Park City, Utah.
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The USA Nordic Women’s Ski Jumping athletes made history on Saturday when they took part in the first ever Women’s Team Event in the history of the World Cup. Abby Ringquist, Nina Lussi, Sarah Hendrickson, and Nita Englund set the standard for future team events, finishing 8th.
“They were really quite relaxed; in the team event, they were jumping better,” said Head Coach Igor Cuznar. “We were fighting with Austria and Norway for 6th for most of the second round. It’s not our best yet, but this was really a good way to show where we could be.”
Sunday morning was the final individual event before the holiday break. Nita Englund and Nina Lussi were the only athletes from the US to ski on Sunday. Nina was the top American, finishing in a three-way tie for 34th Place. Nita was close behind in 39th.
“My jumps are getting quite close now, but I’m still not where I want to be,” said Englund. “ I have a few things still to work on, moving forward.”
Both Nita and Nina, along with Tara Geraghty-Moats, will remain in Europe for a training camp in Planica, Slovenia, before flying home on December 26 in preparation for the US Olympic Trials. Abby and Sarah traveled home yesterday in order to spend the holidays with family, and to get some training on their home hill.
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The Men’s Ski Jumping Team was in Engelberg, Switzerland, this weekend for a pair of individual competitions. USA Nordic athletes Will Rhoads and Michael Glasder were both in attendance, while teammate Kevin Bickner made the tough decision to stay home and train, keeping his long-term goals in focus.
Will had some strong jumps in the official training, jumping 126 and 126.5 meters. During the qualification round, Will’s jump of 125.5 put him well in the mix. Glasder was just off the pace on Friday, missing qualification by only a few points. Saturday was a tough day of competition, with Rhoads finishing 48th. Glasder had a better day on Sunday, qualifying in 44th, while Rhoads was disqualified. Glasder finished the day in 47th.
Now the US team will travel home for the holidays, before joining up in Park City for Olympic Trials at the end of the month.
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Not to be outdone by their teammates on the World Cup, USA Nordic athletes saw plenty of success on the Continental Cup circuits this weekend as well.
Ben Loomis led the team all three days at the Continental Cup held in Steamboat Springs, CO. Three top 5 finishes in three days meant that Loomis was not only the best American of the weekend, but also that Ben has earned himself a spot on the World Cup, beginning after the New Year’s break.
Loomis was strong on the jump hill each day. He began the race on Friday in second position; on Saturday, he found himself in third after the jumping. Sunday, saving the best for last, Loomis was first going into the race. Every day saw him crossing the line in fifth. It was a strong start to the season for Loomis.
“The first day I was pretty surprised to jump to second, but the next two days I was just relaxed,” said Loomis. “I didn’t put too much pressure on myself, because I knew what I was capable of and I was able to execute.”
It was the first time in years that the tour has traveled to the US, giving some of our younger athletes the opportunity to see the international level. In all, ten different athletes represented the USA in Steamboat. Other American highlights included Jasper Good with two top ten finishes (10, 8, and 12), Stephen Schumann with three top fifteens (16, 15, and 20), Ben Berend with two top twenty finishes (18, 24, and 18), Grant Andrews with two top thirty finishes (36, 30, and 27), and Jared Shumate with his first Continental Cup point ever (30, 33, and 31).
By scoring Continental Cup points, all of these athletes are now qualified to ski in the Olympic Trials next week, where they will ski against the rest of the USA Nordic National Team.
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(Photo Credit – Ben Pieper, USA Nordic)
In Norway, members of the USA Nordic Women’s Junior National team continued their hot start to the season as well. After skiing well last weekend in FIS Cups in Whistler and earning the necessary FIS Cup points, Annika Belshaw, Logan Sankey, Sam Macuga, and Anna Hoffmann all made the trip to Notodden, Norway, for a pair of Continental Cups.
The ladies did not disappoint, with all four athletes finishing in the top 25 each day. Belshaw was the top American both days, finishing 11th on Friday and 13th on Saturday. Sankey had a pair of top 20s (16 and 15), as did Sam Macuga (19 and 18). And Hoffman brought home a pair of top 25s (22 and 21).
While it wasn’t necessarily the first time earning points for all of the girls (Sankey has earned COC points in the past), it was the first time for all of the girls to score points in the last year. This is exciting and important, because now each of the girls is qualified to compete alongside the National Team at Olympic Trials next week.
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We at USA Nordic would like to wish you all happy holidays. We hope that you get to enjoy some time with your friends and family, as we enjoy a little time at home with ours. Don’t forget to check back with us to find out how to tune into the Olympic Trials on December 30 and 31!