HINTERZARTEN, Germany (Jan. 29) - Newly named Nordic Combined Olympian, Taylor Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) powered his way from 40th to record the top U.S. finish in the FIS Junior Nordic World Championships in 11th.
Fletcher rounded the final turn in eighth, but couldn't fend off the sprint challenge from the Norwegian duo of Truls Johansen and Joergen Graabak. After starting 3:06 behind the jump winner, Marjan Jelenko, of Slovenia, Taylor skied the second fastest time in the 10K race to end up 1:17 behind Norway's Ole Christian Wendel. With a jump of just 4M farther, Fletcher could have landed on the podium.
Nick Hendrickson (Park City, UT) continued his streak of top five cross country times moving from 45th after the ski jumping portion to 15th at the conclusion of the 10K race. Hendrickson, who scored his best Continental Cup on the same course two weeks ago, struggled in the morning jump competition, but hammered through the deep new snow overtaking 30 skiers in front of him in the Gundersen pursuit style race.
Michael Ward (Aspen, CO), who trains with the Winter Sports Club in Steamboat, CO, had his worst jump of the campaign thus far and put himself far back in the cross-country start list. The world junior athlete snaked his way through the busy crowds of skiers on course skiing from 60th to 42nd with the 15th fastest cross country time. Brett Denney (Steamboat Springs, CO) ran out of gas at the half way mark and turned in his bib to the race officials as a DNF.
Cliff Field (Steamboat Springs, CO) will join Fletcher, Hendrickson and Ward for Sunday's final event the four by 5K Nordic Combined Team.