Though we're far from wanting to take any attention away from Eric Frenzel's amazing double triumph in Seefeld, another athlete has worked his way up into the very top of the result lists this past weekend and that quite impressively so. After his big brother Bryan has been our last Athlete of the Week last season, now it is Taylor Fletcher's time to shine!
A fifth rank marked a new career best for the American from Steamboat Springs on Saturday and on Sunday it came even better: rank three and a career first World Cup podium for the 22-year-old who was suddenly standing tall next to big names like Eric Frenzel and Mikko Kokslien. At the press conference afterwards, Taylor Fletcher summarized his development in the last months very accurately: "I am growing into the sport and and becoming a great skier and that is just building the confidence. Now, each day, I can go on with a bigger heart and push it even more."
His pathway to the U.S national team came after two seasons of solid finishes at the U.S. Championships, and a top 15 finish at World Juniors. He joined brother Bryan and then also earned a spot on the 2010 Olympic Team where he competed in both Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping. A series of successful performances in the Continental Cup last winter paved the way into the World Cup team where he actually has teamed up with brother Bryan in the team events several times so far, making the Fletcher family give the Watabe brothers Akito and Yoshito a run for their money when it comes to the most successful family in Nordic Combined. While Taylor's forte definitely lies in the cross-country track where he has repeatedly set the fastest time in different World Cup competitions, it was his improved jumping that finally got him into the top results just now.
Enjoying the experiences the life as a World Cup athlete is offering, Fletcher appreciates each moment as he writes on his website: "For myself, sports is a huge part of my life. Athletics has played a significant role in my desire to be successful in life. It has taught me to be organised, driven focussed and to be a good team member. Nordic Combined has allowed me to build some great international relationships with fellow athletes and people I have met along my journey."
If he continues like this, it will just be a matter of time until he is drawing level with brother Bryan who he calls his "role model and incentive to be top of my division" and also wins his first World Cup. Maybe Taylor plans for Oslo, the venue of Bryan's triumph last winter and his favourite snow destination: "Oslo, Norway is the birthplace of my sport! People really care for it there!" We will definitely watch out for him!