SOLDIER HOLLOW, UT (Dec. 12) – Amongst family and friends, Olympian Taylor Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) skied his way onto the podium in third at the final Utah Continental Cup competition Sunday on the Olympic trails at Soldier Hollow. Viva la France came the cheers as Frenchman Geoffrey LaFarge came from nearly two minutes behind and crossed the line for the victory making up a 1:54 deficit to clinch the win.
Under bluebird skies and in near 50 degree weather, Olympic silver medalist Brett Camerota (Park City, UT), took home the longest jump of 91.5 meters, tying for first with Austria's Dominik Dier after the ski jumping portion at the Utah Olympic Park. Camerota and Dier traded the lead throughout the first four laps before being caught by a hard-charging pack.
"Because you have to step up so much, after five laps it wears you down," explained Camerota of the tiring slush-like conditions.
Taylor Fletcher makes a move in the later laps to move up to finish third.
With the leaders on course, Fletcher began one minute, 22 seconds back, closing the gap on the leaders with each push in a fast-moving train of up to eight skiers. By lap four, the leaders were in sight and caught as Fletcher was in the chase group that included LaFarge and the second finisher Joergen Graabak of Norway. LaFarge was the first to make contact, catching Dier and Camerota on the bridge coming into the Olympic stadium.
"At the start I didn't think I could win this race," said LaFarge, who scored his first Continental Cup victory. "I wanted to do the best I could and I skied fast."
Fletcher looked strong, but could not match the speed of LaFarge as he pulled away from the pack, clinching the win and making up nearly two minutes on the five loop course. Graabak finished three seconds back, with Fletcher 5.5. Camerota, who did yeoman's duty breaking trail for most of the race, ended up ninth
"You try to keep the steadiest pace possible, but also keep something for the end. It was just so hard because when you start to sprint the snow just pushed away," said Fletcher. "I definitely gave it my all. It was just hard to finish. I didn't have anything at the top of the hill, so I just had to kind of salvage it to get down to the finish."
The Continental Cup will head overseas for Dec. 18-19 races in Erzurum, Turkey. The World Cup will resume next weekend, as well, in Ramsau, Austria with Olympic silver medalist Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) getting back in action in the sport's top circuit. Olympic champion Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) watched Sunday as a spectator. He is taking a planned break to train in Park City and prepare for the February World Championships at Holmenkollen in Oslo.
For complete results: www.fis-ski.com.