Fletcher wins ‘Super Bowl’ of World Cup Nordic combined circuit
March 13, 2012
Ask which cloud Bryan Fletcher currently has his flag planted in, and he’ll tell you, "Probably Cloud 10."
Cloud Nine just isn’t high enough for the 25-year-old Park City resident who over the weekend won the Super Bowl of his sport of Nordic combined skiing in Holmenkollen in Oslo, Norway.
Fletcher capped a breakout season on the FIS Nordic combined tour with a first-place finish in the final World Cup event of the season Saturday. His previous best finish was a fourth. After ending up third in the jumping portion of the Nordic combined event, he skied fast enough in the cross-country portion of the race to edge out Norway’s Mikko Kokslien by 2.3 seconds.
"To win in Holmenkollen is extremely special," he said Monday afternoon from Munich, Germany. "Everybody always dreams about winning a World Championship or at the Olympics, but this is the birthplace of our sport, so it’s an extremely rare event."
Fletcher became just the fifth American to win a Nordic combined World Cup event, joining Billy Demong, Johnny Spillane, Todd Lodwick and Kerry Lynch. It was the first World Cup win for the Americans since Demong won at Val di Fiemme in January 2010.
"It’s still setting in," Fletcher said. "Today, even more so than yesterday, I keep thinking, ‘Oh my god, I can’t believe it.’ When I finally had a minute to sit down and see all the posts on my Facebook, that’s when it really started to set in.
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"I’m super excited. I’m looking forward to winning more World Cups."
Asked how this weekend differed from all the other Nordic combined events he’s participated in, Fletcher said he just felt good enough about the possibility of placing well.
"I was excited because it was the last weekend of the year," he said. "I was feeling good both on the jump hill and the cross-country portion and I knew the results were possible with a little bit of luck. I was able to pull it out. I was finally able to put a good jump and a good race together.
"I’ve been close to the podium a couple times this winter. A couple inches here, a meter there it was just a matter of time."
"Winning a World Cup was definitely a goal of mine this season," he added. "I was just surprised to have it happen at the last competition of the year."
Fletcher was able to celebrate the win with his brother Taylor, who also skis on the World Cup circuit, as well as Demong and others. That, he said, was one of the more exciting parts of the weekend.
"They were extremely excited for me," he said. "I had just the most sincere congratulations from them. They know how hard we worked. They were the ones who helped me get to that step. I think it was a mutual happiness that we, as a team, stuck together."
The groundbreaking victory was a little more special to Bryan Fletcher considering what it took for him to get there.
At age three, he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia and underwent chemotherapy for more than seven years. In the process, he suffered a stroke before the cancer eventually went into remission. In spite of all of that, Fletcher began to learn to ski jump in Colorado Springs, Colo., at age four and began cross-country skiing at six.
The doctors didn’t want him to jump, but he went for it.
"I just look at it and just smile," he said, reminiscing on his serious fight to topple cancer. "It’s something that I almost didn’t get to have. Now, I hope it inspires some more kids to keep fighting and know that everything’s possible afterward and that you can beat cancer."
With all that behind him, and a "Super Bowl" win under his belt, Fletcher is planning on checking out the beaches of Croatia this weekend. After that, it’s offseason training in Park City and cycling races for Cole Sport in the summer.
"It’s just awesome for me a super special victory," he said.