Consistency is key when it comes to nordic combined. Third in the morning jump at the U.S. Nordic Combined Championships on Sunday in Lake Placid, N.Y., national-team staple Billy Demong went on to win the 10-kilometer rollerski with the third-fastest time at the Olympic Jumping Complex, holding off teammates Bryan and Taylor Fletcher by 11 seconds in 25:47.8.
According to Steamboat Today, Demong started 16 seconds behind jump leader Todd Lodwick, another U.S. Nordic Combined veteran. Lodwick started four seconds ahead of Aleck Gantick and ultimately placed fifth after Demong, Bryan Fletcher, Taylor Fletcher and Brett Denney, respectively. Bryan and Taylor started nearly a minute behind in seventh and eighth, respectively.
Taylor passed his brother and edged him for second by 0.3 seconds. Denney finished 31.1 seconds behind Demong in fourth and Lodwick was fifth (+1:14.5), reportedly slowed by asthma.
It was Demong’s ninth national title in what may very well be his last U.S. championships. The 33-year-old Lake Placid-area native plans to retire after the 2014 Sochi Olympics.
“No doubt, this was my best race of this summer,” Demong said in a U.S. Ski Team press release. “This was a solid start to where I want to be right now.”
Most threatened by the idea of Lodwick sprinting to the finish or Taylor Fletcher catching him and skiing away, Demong said he tried to ski his own race.
“I just wanted to ski an even split and stay just 10 to 15 seconds in front of [Taylor] so he didn’t have the opportunity to break away from me,” he explained. “It seemed like that worked out. He pulled within 10 seconds of the last lap, but I had enough energy to hold that gap to the finish line.”
Best of all, Demong said the dryland results indicate that the team’s in good shape overall.
“There were four to five guys who could have won so I think that our team is exceptionally strong, even stronger than four years ago,” he said. “That’s the most important thing to me.”
The U.S. Nordic Combined squad is headed to Europe on Monday for its final overseas training camp before the World Cup season starts next month.
“We had some good results,” head coach Dave Jarrett told Steamboat Today. “It was difficult conditions and this hill is hard. We didn’t do very well jumping, but we have jumped well here, so this was just one of those days.”
Van, Alexander Take Jump Titles
Also on Sunday in Lake Placid, 2009 world champion Lindsey Van (Women’s Ski Jumping USA) and Nick Alexander (USA Ski Jumping) notched national titles on the K90 Olympic normal hill at the U.S. Ski Jumping Championships. For Van, it was her 16th title and Alexander’s second.
“This validates all of the hard work that I’ve been putting in all this summer,” Alexander said in a U.S. Ski Team press release. “Now I just have to appreciate today and work even harder heading into the wintertime.”
“I had fun today and jumping is about fun,” Van said. “I started jumping well a couple of weeks ago. It’s nice as I was struggling a couple of years. It was nice to feel the rhythm of ski jumping again.”
Earlier this summer, U.S. Women’s Ski Jumping world champion Sarah Hendrickson, who is recovering from knee surgery and did not compete on Saturday, and USA Ski Jumping’s Nick Fairall won the large hill competitions in Park City, Utah.
Van tallied the two longest jumps of the weekend of 92.0 and 96.5 meters to top teammate Jessica Jerome, who was second, and Alissa Johnson in third. Alexander soared 99 meters on both rounds, the longest of any man, to beat teammates Fairall in second and Anders Johnson in third.