The U.S. Ski Team's Taylor Fletcher skates into position en route to finishing second in the FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup on the Olympic venue at Soldier Hollow near Midway, UT. (USSA/Tom Kelly)
SOLDIER HOLLOW, UT (Dec. 9) - The U.S. Ski Team's Taylor Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) made up nearly two minutes in cross country but it wasn't quite enough to get past Slovenian Marjan Jelenko who took the win in a FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup on the 2002 Olympic venues. Jelenko won his second career Continental Cup on the strength of a huge 99.5 meter jump at the Utah Olympic Park to take a huge 54 second advantage into the cross country. Mark Schlott of Germany was third. American Nick Hendrickson (Park City, UT), whose sister won the inaugural women's World Cup jump a week ago, had a career best seventh.
Taylor Fletcher scored his fifth career FIS Continental Cup podium coming back from 2:08 back after the jump with the second fastest cross country time
U.S. Ski Team athletes had the top three cross country times led by Brett Denney (Steamboat Springs, CO) in first, Fletcher second and Nick Hendrickson third
Hendrickson's seventh and Denney's tenth were both career best Continental Cups
The win was Jelenko's second and fourth career Continental Cup podium
The third was Schlott's third career podium
Action continues with a pair of events Saturday and Sunday (10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.)
The cancelled races from Lake Placid will be made up at Utah Olympic Park and Soldier Hollow Tuesday and Wednesday.
QUOTES Taylor Fletcher I was third here last year so a little bit better - little bit better in the jumping. We have some really strong jumpers who are normally at the top of the World Cup for jumping so it made it difficult to put it all together to get on the podium.
Starting two minutes down I knew I could get pretty close to the top three but to pickup two minutes and eight seconds is pretty strong.
The altitude helped me for the most part. I just got back from Europe on Monday so I wasn't fully adjusted but I still had that little bit of advantage.
You have to get through (the pack) and you have to take charge - you can't let people boss you around at all. when I got towards a group, I went as hard as I could to the front. If it meant I had to step on some skis, I stepped on some skis.
I was running pretty thing (on the last lap). I had some awesome skis. Dave (coach Dave Jarrett) did a really good job waxing the skis along with some help from some of the Steamboat coaches.
Marjan Jelenko I jumped well in training yesterday. My trial jump was also pretty good. Then I just added a little something in the competition jump.
It was a pretty slow start for me. I thought I would go faster but it didn't go. I was pretty surprised they didn't catch me from the back. I was pretty tired because of the elevation.
Mark Schott My strategy was to not go out too fast at the start because it's a very hard track. At 2,000 meters high, it's very difficult to fight.