We had the chance to catch up with Taylor Fletcher, a Steamboat native and member of the U.S. Nordic Combined team. Taylor achieved his first World Cup podium last season and then went on to earn his first team World Ski Championships medal with a bronze at Val di Fiemme, Italy. From his favorite breakfast foods to his training regimen to the weirdest thing he’s seen from a chairlift, we got the inside scoop. Enjoy!
When and where did you learn to ski? I was taught to ski at a very young age. My father who was a ski patroller at Steamboat Resort got me on some type of skis by the time I could walk. Growing up in Steamboat, which has a rich history of skiing, I felt like it was the THING to do, and I never looked back.
Did you snowboard at all, or have you always been a skier? Yes I did try snowboarding, and actually I started with hockey. Due to the fact that I couldn’t hockey stop, but was one of the fastest skaters, I was turned on to Nordic Combined by my brother Bryan, who is four years older than me. Snowboarding was never really an option in my past. I did end up trying it once, and when I tried to turn I would end up spinning. It didn’t work and I am thankful for that!
When did you realize you wanted to get into ski jumping and cross country, and when did you realize you wanted to compete? Bryan is a reason I have gotten interested in many things. First off was Nordic Combined. He was about eight years old when I really first got interested. At that time he was starting to really have fun with it as he was still battling cancer. He was having so much fun and it was really helping him battle Leukemia, it really inspired me to take part.
What’s it like competing with your brother for the U.S. Ski Team? Having your sibling on any team has its challenges for sure. In fact, doing anything with an older brother is going to cause some drama no matter what. Bryan and I are very unique in our relationship. He was such an inspiration for me that I wanted to follow him everywhere. Now that we are both on the Olympic level and national team, we try to work together when ever possible. The best part is we are better at opposite sides our sport. Bryan is the better ski jumper and I am the better XC skier, so we try to learn and listen to each other whenever possible. Of course we still fight over such thing as where to go and what is right or wrong on a daily occasion. All in all, I know we will always help each other out throughout our sporting career and life.
Which athletes did you admire most growing up, and who do you look up to now? Growing up in Steamboat, more kids dream of winning Olympic gold than hitting a homerun in the World Series. I was very lucky to look up to the people I still do. I was put into the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club at a very young age to be taught by Winter Olympians and local heros. I honestly felt that I was in the best company any athlete could wish for. Also the national team was based in town at the time, and I had the opportunity to watch and follow the likes of Billy Demong, Dave Jarrett, Johnny Spillane. Now I am coached by Dave and was/were teammates with Billy and Dave. Todd Wilson, Gary Crawford, and Chris Gilbertson and Martin Bayer were all coaches of mine in the past that were very much a key to my success and I can’t thank them enough. But the most admired was for sure my brother, I was learning from him everyday and nothing can beat that!
What have been your most memorable moments skiing so far? Last season was an unbelievable year for me. I achieved my first team World Cup podium, team World Championships podium, and first World Cup individual podium. I would say earning my first world championship medal was the most memorable. I experienced and accomplished so much that day, but to do it with the team and my brother was amazing.
What’s the worst injury you’ve had from skiing, and how did it happen? Knock on wood, I have been stupidly lucky and fortunate.
Nordic Combined has a pretty interesting training regimen in the off-season. What’s that like, and how does it compare to what you’re doing in-season? That’s top secret… It just happens to include (but not limited to) cycling, running, rollerskiing, hiking, weights, core, and anything you can possible imagine that will give you a workout. For endurance sports like Nordic Combined, you put all the hard work in during the Summer so you have the fitness to compete in the Winter. Late Spring and Summer are the heaviest months for my training regimen. In the Winter, we are all about maintaining and competition leading up to the Olympics and World Championships.
What does the road to Sochi look like? The actual road to Sochi was pretty bumpy because it was still being built. My journey to Sochi this winter will hopefully be much smoother. I am very happy with the direction I am heading in and feel that it will be on the right path.
Where haven’t you skied, but hope to visit soon? I have skied all around the world for my sport, but alpine skiing is very big in my life. I really enjoy backcountry skiing and of course powder skiing.
What advice do you have on overcoming huge setbacks to achieve such great success? I have been very lucky and haven’t experienced many injuries during my career, but at the same time it is because I have done my training and also my recovery. With that, huge setbacks shouldn’t happen as long as you listen to those around you. I have had a fantastic support group that has guided me in the correct direction to avoid harsh injuries and performance slumps.
If you weren’t a skier, what do you think you’d be doing instead? If I weren’t a skier, I would probably be a full time student. Also I am very big into cycling and I have a passion for racing road bikes. I could see myself doing that when I am finished with skiing, whenever that may be.
20 years from now, what do you want to be remembered for? I want to be remembered for my legacy, and how I have helped create a path for younger skiers and supporting the future of Nordic Combined.
What are your favorite Instagram accounts to follow? National Geographic (natgeo), and all my friends. It is a great way for them to see what I am up too when not around the town, but also so I can see whats new with them!
What 10 bands are you most likely to be listening to when skiing? Alt-J, Lil Wayne, Jay z, the Lumineers, Mumford and Sons, Johnny Cash, Foster the People, Fun, Metallica, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis.
Rapid Fire! What is…
- your all-time favorite ski film? HOT DOG the skiing movie.
- your go-to breakfast before a big day on the slopes? Soft boiled eggs if in Europe, oatmeal or eggs in the USA.
- your go-to après drink after a long day on the slopes? Large dark Coffee or Latte
- your favorite run or mountain? Nothing like home, but I also live in Park City, so Deer Valley or Canyons are up there.
- your favorite of the events you compete in? Seefeld Austria and Oslo Norway.
- your favorite thing to do for fun, outside of skiing? I enjoy golfing as it actually relaxes me somewhat, but cycling is a new passion of mine competitively. I enjoy cooking new recipes and trying new things lately.
- your guiltiest indulgence? Girl scout cookies and bags of Haribo candies and any cookies.
- the weirdest thing you’ve seen from a chairlift? Its pretty standard on many resorts, but the underwear tree is always pretty unusual when first seen.
Have any other questions for Taylor? Share them in the comments below!