USA Olympic Team Trials for ski jumping/nordic combined

LAKE PLACID, NY — Park City’s Jared Shumate may have earned himself a spot today to represent the USA in the Beijing 2022 Olympics in the sport of nordic combined. Taylor Fletcher won the Team Trials, and Ben Loomis came in second in front of Shumate’s third-place finish.

Today’s results do not equate to an official Olympic Team announcement, as a few other factors still need to be calculated. Only the top placer today gets their ticket punched for February’s Olympics. Many athletes’ parents went out of their way to attend today’s event as international spectators are prohibited from the upcoming Games.

Three-time Olympian Fletcher and Olympian Loomis reside in Park City and worked at Red Banjo Pizza. Shumate grew up in Park City, getting his start at the Utah Olympic Park after-school programs of the Youth Sports Alliance and competing for Park City Ski and Snowboard.

He told the NBC commentators that he could see the park City ski jumps from his childhood home.

Fletcher said to the NBC field commentator, “To be qualified for my fourth Olympic experience is fantastic, and to possibly come home with some hardware; I couldn’t be more excited. Nordic Combined is such a difficult sport. I give credit to Ben Loomis. I’m ten years older than most of these guys, and these guys are challenging me. This is just a big relief.”

Skiing on borrowed equipment after the Finland Airline lost all their gear earlier this week as they traveled back across the pond for this competition, Jasper Good from Steamboat Springs, CO, and Park City athlete Steven Schumann rounded out the top five today in Lake Placid.

As many as four spots may be available for the men’s USA Nordic combined athletes. Women’s nordic combined is not an Olympic sport.

The podium for the men’s Team Trials for the separate sport of ski jumping had Kevin Bickner, from Illinois, on top, Decker Dean, from Colorado in second, and Casey Larson from Illinois in third. Olympians Bickner and Larson reside in Park City. Up to four spots will be available for men’s USA ski jumpers.

On his win-and-you’re-in performance, Bickner told the NBC field commentator, “I’m so excited to be here and win this event. I’m really stoked how today went. Every event takes two good jumps to win, so I knew that’s what I needed to do.”

The United States women ski jumpers have yet to procure any spots in the Beijing 2022 Olympic Games. They hope to earn as many as two between now and February. 

Nonetheless, Anna Hoffman from Wisconsin, Logan Sankey from Colorado, and Anika Belshaw, also from Colorado, who spends a considerable amount of time staying and training in Park City, jumped into first, second, and third place today. Park City’s Paige Jones landed in fourth. At the same time, Park City’s Rachael Haerter came in seventh, Park City’s Samantha Macuga finished in eighth, and the youngest competitor of the event, Park City’s 15-year-old Josie Johnson, rounded out the field in ninth place.

Hoffman, who attends the University of Utah, told the NBC field commentator about her win, “I’ve been ski jumping since I was two years old, so it’s been a long journey, we had good speeds and great winds, and it was a lot of fun.”

Four years ago, the ski jumping/nordic combined USA Olympic Team Trials were held in Park City.

Under the tutelage of USA Nordic Executive Director Billy Demong, Park City resident and gold and silver medalist in Nordic combined who grew up in Lake Placid, the facility, owned by the State of New York, was recently redesigned. The 26 million dollar venue, which hosted both the 1932 and 1980 Olympics, saw a few hundred spectators, most wearing masks, just as the athletes were, on this cloudy, freezing-rain, Christmas Day.

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