PARK CITY, Utah -- Bryan Fletcher qualified for his second consecutive Olympic team in Nordic combined after rallying for a victory at the U.S. trials Saturday.
Fletcher finished the 10-kilometer cross-country course in 25 minutes, 6.81 seconds to overcome a poor showing in the earlier ski jump. He placed fifth out of nine athletes after jumping a distance of 86.5 meters and scoring 102.3 points.
"I just had to ski smart and leave enough in the tank at the end that I could finish strong,'' Fletcher said. "It was going to be a really hard finish no matter what, so I gave it everything I had. If the finish line was 10 feet further, I don't know if I would have made it.''
Ben Loomis earned the lead starting spot heading into the 10K race after scoring 123.2 points on his jump. Loomis jumped a distance of 92.5 meters at a speed of 55.1 mph.
Fletcher started the 10K race 1 minute, 24 seconds behind Loomis. He made up ground quickly and overtook Loomis toward the end of the fourth lap. From there, Fletcher pulled away just enough to clinch an Olympic spot on his final lap.
"I wouldn't say it was my peak performance, but strong enough for sure,'' Fletcher said.
Adam Loomis, Ben's brother, finished second both in the 10K and ski jump. His final time differential was 12.8 seconds behind Fletcher after finishing the 10K in 25:47.63. Ben Loomis dropped to third in the 10K, and Ben Berend took third in the jump.
Taylor Fletcher, Bryan's younger brother and a member of both the 2010 and 2014 Olympic teams, finished fourth.
Bryan Fletcher was the only qualifier Saturday. Two more qualifiers for the 2018 Pyeongchang Games will be selected when the trials continue with men's and women's ski jumping Sunday.