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Steamboat Magazine

An Honor Held by Few

02/14/2022 03:00PM ● By Tiia Libin

Courtesy of USA Nordic Sport 

STEAMBOAT SPRINGS, CO – Most of us don’t have the ability or bravery to launch off a ski jump. Of those who do, very few have the skill needed to make it to the Olympics. From that group, almost none manage to do it four times. Taylor Fletcher, a U.S. National Nordic Combined Team athlete who was born and raised in Steamboat, is one of the few whose hard work and determination has allowed him to position himself to compete in his fourth Winter Olympics. 

Over the course of his career, Fletcher has learned to make the most of difficult situations. “That is what is different about this season,” Fletcher says. “Having had the opportunity to participate in three Winter Olympics and travel around the world to nearly every ski jumping facility, I know that things out of my control can and will go sideways. I now understand how to deal with it, and how to mentally keep my focus.” 

Looking back on his career, Fletcher shared the memories from each Olympics that he says he will never forget. 

2010: Vancouver, British Columbia. “It was my first Olympics and at age 19 it was such an honor to represent Team USA,” Fletcher says. “By being able to be a part of this legendary team, it was a special way to kick-start my career.” The team walked away with the first-ever Nordic Combined Team USA Olympic gold and silver medals. 

2014: Sochi, Russia. “We had high hopes but it was a tough one. For some reason nothing seemed to align once we started competing,” Taylor recalls. “It was great to be there with my brother, Bryan, for his first Olympics, but overall it was really a struggle.” The team gave it their best, but unfortunately it just was not good enough to win medals. After Sochi, the U.S. Nordic combined and ski jumping teams lost all funding from the U.S. Ski & Snowboarding Association. Athletes became part-time fundraisers, coaches took pay cuts and the organization was financially stressed. The team subsequently joined USA Nordic Sport, a national organization for ski jumping and Nordic combined athletes.

2018: Pyeongchang, South Korea. “Despite the challenges set forth for us after the Sochi games, this event was a bright spot for me because my results leading into the games were promising,” Fletcher says. “The three years prior to Pyeongchang, we were basically rebuilding our team from the ground up. There was a great new crop of younger athletes that brought a fierce new energy to the team and through all of these changes, we made the best of a bad situation and learned how to fuel our fire.” This was Fletcher’s last Olympics competing alongside his brother, which made for a bittersweet event.

Fletcher hopes to create life-changing memories in Beijing. “Right now, we need to trust that all of our hard work and training will power us through this season. Obviously it is very exciting and nerve-racking at the same time,” Taylor says. Strict COVID rules are in place and only Chinese residents are permitted to attend in person.

Taylor credits his athletic success to his family and the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, which he considers one of the best in the world. “My mom pushed me as far as I could go to do what I needed to do to accomplish my dreams. She literally had to pull my brother and me off of the mountain just 
to eat dinner,” Fletcher says. “I always saw my dad’s red jacket at the top of the mountain. He didn’t know a thing about ski jumping but he always tried to coach us. It’s amazing to see what parents can do to help athletes reach their goals.”