Steamboat’s Bryan Fletcher wins 3rd national title in Nordic combined
STEAMBOAT SPRINGS — There are bigger races to come, more important honors to chase, but on Sunday, Bryan Fletcher didn’t have any trouble appreciating the U.S. Nordic Combined National Championships.
Competing in Lake Placid, New York, he was solid in difficult jumping conditions, then more than fast enough in the 10-kilometer roller ski race to comfortably win his third national title.
“It’s a hard thing to achieve,” Fletcher said. “It’s nice to have that title, and it does mean a lot. Going into my final season of skiing, it was really great to have a great day on the hill and to clinch the title.”
Fletcher wasn’t the only Nordic combined national champion on the day. Nina Lussi, a Lake Placid skier on the U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping team, won the women’s Nordic combined national championship in that title’s inaugural year.
For all practical purposes, Fletcher clinched his title on the jumping hill. He said swirling winds complicated things, but he managed the best jump of the competition, and it wasn’t particularly close.
His jump put him in position to have a 1 minute, 14 second lead on the field. Canadian skier Nathaniel Mah was second and U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team athlete Ben Loomis third, 1:24 back.
Fletcher had no trouble holding his lead. In fact, he built on it. He finished the race 2:10 ahead of Loomis, who skied up to second for his first national’s podium.
Steamboat Springs skier Jasper Good also made the national podium for the first time, placing third on Sunday, another 41 seconds behind Loomis.
Among other Steamboat-connected skiers in the top 10 were Ben Berend, fourth, Adam Loomis, fifth, and Taylor Fletcher, sixth.
Bryan Fletcher also won the national title in 2014 and 2015. Taylor Fletcher won it last year.
The women’s race didn’t prove competitive, but organizers said before the race that wasn’t exactly the point. The point, they said, was to begin the process of building a national Nordic combined field as that sport evolves on the international scene.
The favorite to win the national championship, Tara Geraghty-Moats, broke her arm late this summer after falling on a jump in Europe. On Sunday, only two competitors raced.
Lussi had a very strong jump, putting her 4:30 ahead of the day’s other racer, Gabby Armstrong, to start the ski race. Armstrong, who’s spent more time racing Nordic combined, cut nearly two minutes off in the ski race, but couldn’t bridge the gap.
Lussi’s jump was also good enough to give her the championship in the normal hill ski jumping competition.
Steamboat jumper Nita Englund was second in that competition and Abby Ringquist third. Steamboat’s Annika Belshaw, just 15 years old, was fourth, ahead of fifth-place Sarah Hendrickson and Logan Sankey, another Steamboat jumper, in sixth.
Michael Glasder won the men’s normal hill ski jumping competition. Mackenzie Boyd-Clowse was second and Kevin Bickner third. Bryan Fletcher was fourth in that competition.
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