Taylor Fletcher competes during the individual gundersen large hill/10-kilometer during the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022 on Feb. 15, 2022 in Zhangjiakou, China.
ZHANGJIAKOU, China — The third and final event of Nordic combined, and the only team event, took place Thursday afternoon with the start of the ski jumping at the Zhangjiakou National Cross-Country Centre.
The U.S. quartet of Taylor Fletcher, Ben Loomis, Jasper Good and Jared Shumate finished with an overall sixth-place finish and a time of 53:07.1 — the U.S.’s best result since Sochi 2014, where Fletcher helped the U.S. to its first sixth-place finish.
The moment was admittedly bittersweet for four-time Olympian Fletcher, who plans to retire after these Games.
“This is really tough,” Fletcher said. “I started in 2010 with Billy Demong and Johnny Spillane winning medals, and that was cool to see.”
The U.S. has four total medals in the sport, winning them all at the 2010 Vancouver Games, taking gold and silver in the individual large hill, and silver in the normal hill and the team event.
The 31-year-old, affectionately nicknamed “Old Man” by his teammates, was instrumental earlier this year when he led the U.S. to their best finish in a Nordic combined team relay since 2013 when they placed fifth in a world cup event.
“I have nothing to be ashamed of,” he continued. “It has been an honor to be able to represent the USA. It has been a fun year, and I’m excited to see what the guys are going to do in the future. It’s crazy to think that this will be the last time I will be putting on an Olympic bib — unless I get some stupid idea to come back in four years.”
Three-time Olympic champion Norway took the gold (50:45.1) despite having to compete without one of their most consistent athletes, Jarl Magnus Riiber, who tested positive for COVID-19 earlier in the Games. Germany’s defending gold medalists took silver (51:40.0) — continuing their winning streak, which has seen them on the podium in the team event at every Winter Games since 2002.
Team Japan made it an exciting race for second, but settled for bronze with a time of 51:40.3, making it back on the podium for the first time since their gold medal win in 1994.
As the name suggests, Nordic combined combines two sports: ski jumping and cross-country skiing. It has been contested at the Winter Olympics since the first Games in 1924 in Chamonix and has been included in every Games since.
It is also the only sport — winter or summer — that does not include women at the Olympic level. A women’s event could be added for the 2026 Winter Games in Italy.
Want to follow Team USA athletes during the Olympic Games Beijing 2022? Visit TeamUSA.org/Beijing-2022-Olympic-Games to view the competition schedule, medal table and results.