Thursday, March 22, 2018


Winter Olympics: Eau Claire's Loomis 41st in debut

  • con-Olympian-Loomis-012618

    Ben Loomis

    Contributed photo

He was a boy among men. A rookie among veterans. An amateur among pros.

There were no podiums or medals.

This was the big-time, the Olympic Games.

As one of the four youngest entries who took part a week ago in the World Junior Championships in Switzerland, Ben Loomis did just fine.

Honors wait in the future for the 19-year-old Eau Claire product of the Flying Eagles Ski Club.

Loomis finished far down the list Wednesday in the Normal Hill/​Gundersen 10K Nordic combined at Pyeonchang, South Korea.

“It was a pretty amazing feeling representing your country at the top of the slide,” he said by phone from Pyeonchang. “But when it’s time to jump, you just put that aside and jump.”

He had a relatively short jump of 86½ meters (284 feet) followed by a not-his-best cross-country run of 25 minutes, 56.8 seconds to finish in 41st as the third of four Americans in the event.

“There was a funky wind at the jump and it wasn’t the best but a little bit better than I did in training,” he said. “My race could’ve been better, but overall the experience was OK.”

Loomis wound up 4:47.3 behind winner Germany’s Eric Frenzel, who came from fifth place after the jump to finish the race in 24:51.4, just 4.8 seconds ahead of runner-up Akito Watabe of Japan. Frenzel defended the title he won four years ago at Sochi. Bronze went to Lukas Klapper of Austria, 18.1 seconds behind the winner.

Franz-Josef Rehrl of Austria led after his jump of 112 meters (367 feet) but faded to 13th place after the cross-country run.

The power-packed field featured all of the top athletes from the World Cup circuit.

The United States got a fine showing from 31-year-old Bryan Fletcher, its No. 1 man from Steamboat Springs, Colo., who was a jumping winner at Eau Claire’s Silver Mine Hill in 2005. Fletcher had a jump of 97½ meters (320 feet) and the 22nd-best cross-country time of 24:57.6 to finish in 17th place. Brother Taylor Fletcher finished in 35th place, 3:27.8 behind the winner, while the fourth American was Jasper Good, also of Steamboat Springs, who was 45th and 5:48.4 out of first.

Loomis led the U.S. in the World Juniors a week ago, narrowly missing a double medal performance. He took third in the Normal Hill/​10K and finished one-tenth of a second out of third in the NH/​5K.

Loomis had previously said that the Olympics would not be for place or numbers but for experience that he hopes to carry over — hopefully to Olympic Games in the future.

“We’re taking a couple days off and then get ready for our next competitions,” he said.

The U.S. team will take part in a team event and another individual test next week.

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