VAL DI FIEMME, Italy – Bill Demong (Vermontville, NY) tore through a steady rain Saturday with the fastest time to finish second in a World Cup nordic combined individual competition. It's Demong's fifth top-3 of the season, his third in the last four World Cups as he moved into second place overall.
World Cup leader Ronny Ackermann of Germany, who was second in jumping, won by 34.1 seconds over Demong with Sebastien Haseney of Germany third (34.3 back). Demong was 18th after the jumping, moving up 16 places in the six-lap ski race. Spillane, 33rd in jumping, had the third-fastest 15K and moved up 14 places to 19th, two minutes out.
Ackermann leads after 10 competitions with 626 points to 557 for Demong. Spillane is in a tie for 14th with 206 points.
“I didn't have great jumping. My first round was okay, but I got a little off-balance on my second jump. It was raining hard all day.” Demong said. Temperatures were in the mid-30s.
He was 18th in jumping and started with Haseney, who was 19th, one-tenth of a point behind. They skied much of the way together, Haseney leading the first lap and then Demong staying ahead for the rest of the race as they caught clusters of skiers and then left them behind.
“We weren't diving for the line, but it was close at the end,” Demong said. “I was able to pick it up a few times to catch the packs [of skiers], go through the packs and get away from the packs. He stayed with me a few times and when I thought I might have shaken him, he was always there…and then we were sprinting at the end and I beat him.”
Despite the rain, he said track conditions were hard and fast. They softened a little in the rain and with nearly 40 athletes skiing over them six times. “It was a tough [2.5K] loop. There was a lot of climb to it and the rain wasn't a lot of fun,” he said.
Spillane, a three-time Olympian with Demong who opened the season with his first podium in four years, is healthy after battling a series of illnesses since he won the sprint world championship in Val di Fiemme in 2003. He was pleased with his third-fastest 15K.
“It's nice to be healthy again. It definitely makes things a lot easier,” he said. “I'm still struggling in jumping, but when it's raining like this, it's tough for everyone. I'm close. I just need to work out a couple of more things.
“After jumping, I was way back so I just had to go for it. I had no reason to hold back. It was a pretty hard course because the hills are short and then broken up. It just keeps coming at you,” Spillane said. “You're working it all the time. The downhills don't give you any rest because they're so short.”
The Warsteiner FIS Nordic Combined World Cup schedule continues Sunday with a sprint, one jump and a 7.5K race. The weather forecast was for possible snow in the morning and colder temperatures.
WARSTEINER FIS NORDIC COMBINED WORLD CUP
Val di Fiemme, ITA – Jan. 12, 2008
1. Ronny Ackerman, Germany, (2/7)
2. Bill Demong, Vermontville, NY, (18/1) 34.1 seconds back
3. Sebastien Haseney, Germany, (19/2) 34.3
4. Hannu Manninen, Finland, (15/4) 54.7
5. Jason Lamy Chappuis, France, (10/9) 1:02.1
19. Johnny Spillane, Steamboat Springs, CO, (33/3) 2:00.8
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