Sports

Fletcher flies forth for fourth Olympics

PARK CITY, Utah — Park City athlete Taylor Fletcher took the top podium spot on Christmas Day at USA Nordic’s Team Trials in Lake Placid, NY meaning he’s the only one who earned the opportunity to automatically go on to represent the USA in the Beijing 2022 Olympics for what will be his fourth Games.

Standing on the World Cup podium twice, and contributing to the 2013 bronze medal that Team USA took home at the Nordic World Championships, Fletcher is a nordic combined athlete. He ski jumps for distance differential and for style points followed hours later by a cross country race, the two performances are combined, on paper, producing the result.

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“I felt pretty confident heading into Trials, I had one of my best starts to the season in many years. The xc was on a good level going into the trials so I knew what I needed to do on the hill to challenge in the race.” Fletcher told me. He talked about the recently renovated venue, the only other hill of Olympic size in the United States besides Park City’s,” It’s amazing. As an athlete who has been on the circuit as long as I have, every time you get to jump a new hill it’s a great feeling. It brings the joy of the sport back every time no matter how you are skiing.” 

Taylor Fletcher, American nordic combined Olympian.
Taylor Fletcher, American nordic combined Olympian. Photo: Fletcher Family (Facebook)

Fletcher has been living, working, playing, training, and matriculating in Park City for almost 15 years now. When he’s not on the golf course, well, even when he is on the golf course, the 31-year-old goes out of his way to befriend, local development athletes and out-of-town visitors alike. Studied at Westminster College, and the University of Utah, worked at Red Banjo Pizza, trained at the Utah Olympic Park, and volunteered at Deer Valley Resort’s Shred For Red Cancer Fundraiser, he’s as proud to call Park City home as Park City is to call him its own.

Fletcher grew up in Steamboat Springs, CO, therefore, his mom Penny may have a thing or two to say about that claim, however, she feels that her two sons can do no wrong. Two-time Nordic Combined Olympian Bryan is Taylors older brother who is the Emergency Room Physicians Assistant at the Park City Hospital.

Their father, Tim, who passed away three years ago, was the one who taught them to ski and instilled their passion while he was a ski patroller in Steamboat and they were each just two years old.

Elite nordic combined can be logistically laden (they schlep some of the most equipment of any sport,) physically fraught (they burn some of the most calories of any sport,) monetarily murky (other countries’ teams are government-subsidized,) yet spiritually satiating (or he wouldn’t be staring down the business-end of his third successful decade of club/team skiing.) He carves out time from his international competition schedule, to workk at Athletic Republic. “I started as a sports performance trainer and made the move during the start of the pandemic to become the Sales Manager. Right now I manage a team to help drive up the average unit volume (AUV) for nearly 20 franchisees across the country. It is a product that I believe in as I want youth athletes to have the same experience I had when I was young with science and evidence-based training,” he told me.

Talk turns to the Olympics, weeks away. “It is very unknown, not many people have jumped the hill or skied the course. Most athletes on the World Cup circuit don’t know much about it. That being said, we know what hills are most like those in Beijing so we have a decent idea. Good jumps will work anywhere, and fast skiing is the same. I’m looking forward to checking out the venue for the first time.” 

The International Olympic Committee (IOC) has forbidden the attendance of international spectators in China, to which Taylor said to me, “It will be tough being this will be my last Olympic appearance. That being said, we haven’t had many fans these last years due to the pandemic. Some may need the energy of the crowd for their performance, but I feel like it may suit me very well.” 

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