I was able to stay on my feet in the race and move up quite a bit. There were some really tough conditions out there today. Really strong wind, rain and warm weather all played a factor in today. This made for some tough racing out there. —Bryan Fletcher
SCHONACH, Germany — Bryan Fletcher posted the third-fastest time of the day to move up from 26th to finish ninth in Sunday’s Nordic combined World Cup in Schonach. Fletcher's jump had him starting the 10K cross-country race in 26th place — 58 seconds behind the first skier. He skied the third-fastest 10K of the day and finished just 14 seconds behind Jason Lamy Chappuis of France, who won the World Cup.
"Today was a solid day for me," Fletcher said. "I was able to stay on my feet in the race and move up quite a bit. There were some really tough conditions out there today. Really strong wind, rain and warm weather all played a factor in today. This made for some tough racing out there."
Fletcher and his teammates return to Utah for the 2014 U.S. Olympic trials on Dec. 28 at the Utah Olympic Park and Soldier Hollow. The full team will be named in late January.
RANDALL SKIS TO FIFTH-PLACE FINISH: Kikkan Randall of Anchorage, Alaska, and Sadie Bjornsen of Winthrop, Wash., teamed up to finish fifth in an FIS World Cup classic technique team sprint Sunday in Asiago, Italy.
"It was an OK race for us today," Randall said. "Both Sadie and I felt like we were missing our full sprint gear, so to still be top five was a decent day. Really cool to have both our women's teams make the final and ski so close all day. As I was once the only woman on the national team, I can say I really appreciate the depth we have now. It was really good to go through a whole team sprint race today with strong competition. We were close to where we want to be and this gives us good motivation and some things to work on before Sochi."
The second U.S. team — Ida Sargent of Vermont, and Sophie Caldwell of Vermont — finished eighth. The finish matches the USA best finish in a classic team sprint, which was set in the Sochi test event last February. Finland took the women's win with Norway victorious for the men. The World Cup takes a short holiday break before resuming with the Tour de Ski Dec. 27-Jan. 5.
JEROME JUMPS WELL: Park City's Jessica Jerome was an impressive 10th Saturday and ninth Sunday out of a field of 70 jumpers. Teammate Lindsey Van finished ninth Saturday and struggled Sunday with a 21st-place finish.
"I had a good first jump and favorable conditions," said Jerome, who jumped 96.5 and 94 meters. "My second jump was decent, but the wind wasn't as cooperative. I'm satisfied with another top 10 and am excited to come home and get some good training in."
Weather conditions were nearly perfect on the first day of competition in the Black Forrest of Hinterzarten, but on Sunday unpredictable winds set in, causing shorter jumps and some unlucky rides.
U.S. MEN SWEEP HALF-PIPE: Rookie rider Taylor Gold of Colorado led a U.S. sweep with Greg Bretz of California and Ben Ferguson of Oregon in the half-pipe final at the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix at Copper. Gold put down his winning score during the very first run of the competition after barely qualifying for the final in 16th. The entire international field was not able to top Gold’s run, which resulted in his career-first World Cup victory. All spots on the men’s Olympic team are still up for grabs, and the competition will be at an all-time high when the Sprint U.S. Grand Prix goes to Breckenridge Jan. 8-11.
"My approach is just landing runs," Gold said. "I’m not really focused on the result, and I’m still not going to be focused on the result. I’m just want to land my run and ride my best."