(NEXSTAR) — The last time the United States won a medal in the sport of nordic combined was in 2010. And if Team USA is going to do it again in 2022, athletes will likely be led by three-time Olympian Taylor Fletcher.
Nexstar’s Matt Barnes has more on Fletcher’s mindset, on the Journey to Beijing.
“Going to your first Olympics is a dream come true. It’s something you’ve worked your whole career for that point. Every chance after that, you’re looking to do a little bit better, looking for that opportunity to come away with some hardware,” Fletcher said.
Fletcher has had quite a career. He was on Team USA in 2010 when his teammates won four medals in Vancouver, the first and only medals won in nordic combined by Americans. Now at 31, he’s striving for his fourth Olympic games.
“I still have a lot left in me and I’m excited to give every aspect of it. Because I am approaching the end of my career and I want to be able to leave with the feeling that I gave everything possible,” Fletcher said.
To make it to Beijing though, Fletcher is going to hold off a youth movement that is currently happening. He’s the oldest member of the U.S. National team by six years. And three members of his team are 21 or younger.
“But I want their energy, their passion, is pushing me to be better on a daily basis. That fire, that passion, that drive in competition makes you a better athlete time in and time out. They want to get rid of me and I want to keep putting them down in their place and challenge them,” Fletcher said.
The team recently finished a training camp in Lake Placid, New York, taking part in both ski jumping and cross country skiing, the two disciplines that make up nordic combined. It’s all in preparation for this month’s Olympic trials and the long-term goal of making big strides — and leaps — in Beijing.
“No one is ever going to see us as favorites. U.S. and nordic combined don’t go together in that aspect. But we’re always a challenger. They know when we have good jumps, we’re in the fight for medals,” Fletcher said.
Taylor and the rest of Team USA will gather again in Lake Placid for the Olympic trials on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. Only the winner is guaranteed a spot in Beijing.
The rest of the team will be named in January.