Meet The 2022 U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping Teams
by Peggy Shinn
In the early years, Scandinavian countries dominated the sport. The U.S. men finally won Nordic combined Olympic medals in 2010, when Billy Demong, Johnny Spillane, Todd Lodwick, and Brett Camerota dominated competition and came away with gold and silver medals in all three events (large hill, normal hill, and the team relay).
Taylor Fletcher was also on the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team. At the time he was 19 years old and finished 45th in the large hill competition. Fast forward a dozen years and the 31-year-old made his fourth U.S. Olympic team by winning 2022 U.S. Olympic Team Trials on Christmas Eve. He headlines the U.S. Nordic combined team of five men heading to the Olympic Winter Games Beijing 2022.
Here’s a look at the men on the 2022 U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined and Ski Jumping teams.
Taylor Fletcher celebrates as he walks to the podium after winning the nordic combined competition at the U.S. Nordic Combined & Ski Jump Olympic Trials on Dec. 24, 2021 in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Taylor Fletcher made his Olympic debut a dozen years ago. Back then, he was still a promising junior from Steamboat Springs, Colorado, competing in Nordic combined with his older brother Bryan. While Bryan was the better ski jumper, Taylor could cross-country ski faster than just about everyone. For example, in 2009, he finished 12th in the normal hill competition at 2009 junior world championships; he had come in 37th in the jump, then skied the fourth fastest 10km freestyle race to leap 25 places up the results sheet.
Now 31, Fletcher is known affectionately as “Old Man” by his younger teammates. But he has kept that speed — he is still one of the fastest men in the 10km freestyle leg of the Nordic combined. In 2013, he helped the U.S. win a bronze medal in the team competition at world championships. He has also made the world cup podium twice in his long career.
Earlier this year, he led the U.S. to fifth place in a world cup 4x5km team event. It was the U.S.’s best finish in a Nordic combined team relay since 2013. This result bodes well for the team event at the Beijing Olympic Games.
Jasper Good watches competitors after his jump in the nordic combined competition at the U.S. Nordic Combined & Ski Jump Olympic Trials on Dec. 24, 2021 in Lake Placid, N.Y.
Like Fletcher, Jasper Good grew up in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. But unlike Fletcher, Good started out as a freeskier. When he was 9, he discovered Nordic combined and fell in love with the sport. He competed in Nordic combined through high school and at junior world championships four times, finishing as high as 11th in individual competition. In 2014, Good graduated from high school and became a member of the U.S. Army World Class Athlete Program (WCAP). He also enrolled at the University of Utah.
Good made his world cup debut in 2015 and then was named to the 2018 U.S. Olympic Team. In PyeongChang, his best finish was 43rd in the large hill. Now on his second U.S. Olympic Team, Good, 25, is aiming for a medal, possibly in the team event. Earlier this season, Good helped the U.S. finish fifth in a world cup team relay.
Ben Loomis competes during the nordic combined competition of the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships on Feb. 22, 2019 in Seefeld, Austria.
Ben Loomis grew up in Eau Claire, Wisconsin, and watched his older brother Adam ski jump. At only 5 years old, Loomis knew he wanted to try the sport too. Soon, he was traveling to competitions around the Midwest as a member of Eau Claire’s Flying Eagles Ski Club.
A decade later, Loomis enrolled at the Park City Winter Sports School so he could pursue the sport at a higher level. And he added cross-country skiing to the mix; thus, a Nordic combiner was born. He won a silver medal at the 2016 Youth Olympic Winter Games and a bronze at the 2018 junior world championships. That winter, he went straight from Switzerland, where junior worlds were held in 2018, to Korea, where he competed in his first Olympic Winter Games. His best individual result at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games was 40th in the large hill competition.
Since then, Loomis joined the U.S. Army alongside teammate Jasper Good and is part of the World Class Athlete Program. Now 23, Loomis has become a fixture in the world cup top 30 and is currently the highest ranked American man in Nordic combined standings. He finished the 2022 Olympic qualifying period by finishing 12th in a world cup and will be looking for the Olympic podium in Beijing.
Stephen Schumann looks on during the men's 10-kilometer cross country race during the FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup on Dec. 11, 2020 in Midway, Utah.
Stephen Schumann was a promising young Nordic combiner from Park City, Utah, when — in July 2018 — he crashed off the large hill ski jump while training for nationals and tore ligaments in his knee. Prior to this injury, he competed in junior worlds three times, where he scored a handful of top 15s. He had also competed in a handful of world cups. But, after the injury, he would have to take off almost a year to recover from surgery.
It was two years before Schumann jumped back into international competition in December 2020. He collected a series of top-10 finishes in continental cups last year and earlier this season, then jumped back into world cup competition six weeks ago. By being named to the 2022 U.S. Olympic Team, Schumann, 21, is fulfilling a childhood dream that began when he was 5 years old and first stepped on a ski jump.
Jared Shumate reacts after competing in the jumping leg of the nordic combined competition at the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships Oberstdorf on March 4, 2021 in Oberstdorf, Germany.
From Park City, Utah, Jared “Jerry” Shumate started skiing at the age of 2 at his local mountain, Deer Valley. He loved skiing fast and catching air. His dad’s house overlooked Park City’s Olympic ski jumps, so he could see what it was really like to catch air. At age 9, Shumate started ski jumping as part of the Park City’s Youth Sports Alliance Get Out And Play program. He then moved into Nordic combined.
Shumate graduated from the Park City Winter Sports School in November 2015 and began competing internationally. Two years later, he was named to the U.S. national team, and in 2019, he scored his best result at junior world championships: ninth in the normal hill. He made his world cup debut the same year and has aimed to finish consistently in the top 30.
Now 22, Shumate met that goal at the end of Olympic qualification this month. He will make his Olympic debut in Beijing. In addition to Nordic combined, Shumate is studying geography and sociology in the University of Utah’s Honors College. He hopes to graduate in 2022 or 2023.
Kevin Bickner on the podium after winning the ski jumping competition at the U.S. Nordic Combined & Ski Jump Olympic Trials on December 25, 2021 in Lake Placid, New York.
Growing up in the Chicago suburbs, Kevin Bickner liked to climb up whatever he could find, then jump off. At age 9, he finally climbed a ski jump and found his sport. By the time he was 11, he was jumping on the 70-meter hill — the tallest at his home ski club (Norge). Five years later, he was on the U.S. developmental team, living part time in Park City, Utah, as a teenager. Bickner competed at junior world championships three times, finishing as high as 11th in individual competition.
He made his world cup debut in 2015 and his Olympic debut three years later. His 18th-place finish on the normal hill at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games marked the best placing by a U.S. man at the Olympic Games in 16 years. Anders Haugen, who won bronze at the inaugural Winter Games in 1924, remains the only U.S. ski jumper to have won an Olympic medal (though he was initially ranked fourth and upgraded to bronze 50 years later after a calculation was corrected). Bickner also holds the U.S. distance record at 244.5 meters.
The Covid-19 pandemic curtailed competition for Bickner, who’s now 25. He returned to competition in September 2021 and turned it on for the U.S. Olympic Team Ski Jumping Trials on Christmas Day. He won that event and earned his second trip to the Olympic Games.
Casey Larson competes during the Ski Jumping - Men's Team Large Hill at the Winter Olympic Games PyeongChang 2018 on Feb. 19, 2018 in Pyeongchang-gun, South Korea.
Casey Larson is another Olympic veteran on the 2022 U.S. Olympic ski jumping team. Like Bickner, he grew up outside Chicago, and at age 2, he was being towed around the slopes by his dad, Guy. He started ski jumping at age six because “it looked ridiculous.” So of course, the sport took over his life.
Larson began competing internationally as a teenager, and in 2016 went to Lillehammer, Norway, for the Youth Olympic Winter Games. In ski jumping’s mother land, he took sixth in the individual event. At his Olympic debut in PyeongChang two years later, Larson finished ninth with the team and among the top-40 in the normal hill event. He also left South Korea with the distinction of being the 100,000th male Olympian.
The road from PyeongChang to Beijing was a bit bumpy for Larson. He spent the 2020/21 season making a comeback from major surgery after tearing his shoulder in two pieces. But he still managed to finish as the top U.S. man in the world cup standings. He also swept the normal hill and large hill titles at the U.S. championships this past summer.
When he is not competing, Larson, 23, attends the University of Utah. His sister, Cara, is also a member of the U.S. Ski Jumping National Team. The love for flying runs in the family.
Patrick Gasienica jumps during the first round of the ski jumping competition at the U.S. Nordic Combined & Ski Jump Olympic Trials on Dec. 25, 2021 in Lake Placid, New York.
Patrick “Patty” Gasienica will make his Olympic debut at the 2022 Beijing Winter Games. Like Bickner and Larson, he was raised in the suburbs of Chicago, Illinois, and he learned to love ski jumping as part of the Norge Ski Club. His father, Wojciech Gasienica, stoked his love for skiing and motivated his athletic career. Gasienica also looked up to famed Polish ski jumper, Adam Malysz, who won four Olympic medals and four world championship titles in his career, retiring in 2011.
Gasienica, 23, was named to the 2022 U.S. Olympic ski jumping team based on his continental cup results this season.