Fletcher brothers make it seven sibling sets on U.S. Olympic Team

Bryan Fletcher, Taylor Fletcher
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Bryan and Taylor Fletcher look to build on U.S. Nordic Combined’s breakout Olympics in 2010 as two of the leaders on the 2014 U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined Team.

The Fletchers joined 2010 Olympic champion Bill Demong and silver medalist Todd Lodwick on the four-man team. They are the seventh set of siblings on the 2014 U.S. Olympic Team, breaking the U.S. Winter Games record of six in 1964, when there were far fewer total athletes than today.

Demong is going to his fourth Olympics; Lodwick, previously named to the team, is headed for a record sixth Winter Olympics for an American, so long as his shoulder holds up.

“We’re hoping that [Lodwick] is going to be able to recover and contribute to the team,” U.S. coach Dave Jarrett said. “We’re not necessarily looking at the first individual event (Feb. 12) for Todd. We want to give as much time as possible for the fractures to heal.”

The team event is Feb. 20.

Bryan Fletcher, four years older than Taylor, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia at age 3, underwent seven years of chemotherapy and survived a stroke before his cancer went into remission.

Taylor Fletcher was also on the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team but was not chosen for the team event, where Demong and Lodwick won silver with Johnny Spillane and Brett Camerota.

“[Taylor] and his brother, Bryan, have begun to fill the void that Todd and Bill and Johnny have started to leave and are going to leave,” Jarrett said.

Earler in the Games, Spillane (now retired) won the first U.S. Olympic Nordic combined medal, a silver in the normal hill. Later, Demong won the first U.S. Olympic Nordic combined gold medal in the large hill.

“Bill is close to medal contention now,” Jarrett said. “If anyone knows how to peak physically and mentally when you really have, to Bill Demong is one of the best in the world at doing that.”

This year’s team is unlikely to achieve that kind of success. No American man or team has made a World Cup podium this season — Bryan Fletcher ranks highest in overall standings at 18th. However, the team won World Championships bronze last year.

The Fletcher brothers join six other sets of siblings on the U.S. Olympic Team — cross-country skiers Erik and Sadie Bjornsen, curlers Craig and Erika Brown, figure skaters Maia and Alex Shibutani, hockey players Amanda and Phil Kessel and Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux and snowboarders Arielle and Taylor Gold.

Demong and Taylor Fletcher engaged in playful bets the last two seasons. They resulted in Fletcher wearing a Captain America suit and Demong dressing as Aquaman in Europe.

Here’s the U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined Team:

Bill Demong — 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 Olympian
Bryan Fletcher
Taylor Fletcher — 2010 Olympian
Todd Lodwick 
— 1994, 1998, 2002, 2006, 2010 Olympian

Snowboarder who lives in truck makes Olympics

Ironman Kona World Championships return for first time in three years, live on Peacock

Ironman Kona World Championship
Ironman
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The Ironman Kona World Championships return after a three-year hiatus with a new format, live on Peacock on Thursday and Saturday at 12 p.m. ET.

The Ironman, held annually in Hawaii since 1978, and in Kailua-Kona since 1981, was not held in 2020 or 2021 due to the coronavirus pandemic.

The world championships made a one-time-only stop in St. George, Utah, on May 7 to make up for the 2021 cancellation. The winners were Norway’s Kristian Blummenfelt, the Tokyo Olympic triathlon champion, and Swiss Daniela Ryf, who bagged her fifth Ironman world title.

Both are entered in Kailua-Kona, where the races are now split between two days — Thursday for the women and Saturday for the men.

An Ironman includes a 2.4-mile swim, 112-mile bike and a marathon — totaling 140.6 miles of racing. It takes top triathletes eight hours to complete. Very arguably, it crowns the world’s fittest man and woman.

WATCH LIVE: Ironman Kona, Thursday, 12 p.m. ET — STREAM LINK

Ryf, 35 and a 2008 and 2012 Olympian, can tie retired countrywoman Natascha Badmann for second place on the women’s list at six Ironman world titles. Only Zimbabwean-turned-American Paula Newby-Fraser has more with eight.

The field also includes German Anne Haug, the 2019 Kona champ and only woman other than Ryf to win since 2015. Brit Lucy Charles-Barclay, the Kona runner-up in 2017, 2018 and 2019, returns after missing the St. George event due to a stress fracture in her hip.

Blummenfelt, 28 and in his Kona debut, will try to become the youngest male champion in Kona since German Normann Stadler in 2005. His top challengers include countryman Gustav Iden, the two-time reigning Half Ironman world champion, and German Patrick Lange, the 2017 and 2018 Ironman Kona winner.

Also racing Saturday is Dallas Clark, a retired All-Pro NFL tight end with the Indianapolis Colts, and Tony Kanaan, the 2013 Indy 500 champion who completed the 2011 Kona Ironman in 12 hours, 52 minutes, 40 seconds.

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Joan Benoit Samuelson, Olympic marathon champ in 1984, runs London Marathon at 65

Joan Benoit Samuelson
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Joan Benoit Samuelson, the first Olympic women’s marathon champion in 1984, ran her first 26.2-mile race in three years at Sunday’s London Marathon and won her age group.

Benoit Samuelson, 65, clocked 3 hours, 20 minutes, 20 seconds to top the women’s 65-69 age group by 7 minutes, 52 seconds. She took pleasure in being joined in the race by daughter Abby, who crossed in 2:58:19.

“She may have beaten me with my replacement knee, but everybody said I wouldn’t do it! I will never say never,” Benoit Samuelson said, according to race organizers. “I am a grandmother now to Charlotte, and it’s my goal to run 5K with her.”

LONDON MARATHON: Results

Benoit Samuelson raced the 1987 Boston Marathon while three months pregnant with Abby. Before that, she won the first Olympic women’s marathon at the 1984 Los Angeles Games, plus the Boston Marathon in 1979 and 1983 and the Chicago Marathon in 1985.

Her personal best — 2:21:21 — still holds up. She ranks sixth in U.S. women’s history.

Benoit Samuelson plans to race the Tokyo Marathon to complete her set of doing all six annual World Marathon Majors. The others are Berlin, Boston, Chicago and New York City.

“I’m happy to finish this race and make it to Tokyo, but I did it today on a wing and a prayer,” she said, according to organizers. “I’m blessed to have longevity in this sport. It doesn’t owe me anything, but I feel I owe my sport.”

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