SCHONACH, Germany (Jan. 5) – Bill Demong (Vermontville, NY) finished second Saturday, two-tenths of a second back in a nordic combined World Cup sprint for his fourth podium of the winter and second consecutive second-place finish. Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO) was 20th behind Jason Lamy Chappuis of France.
“Not a bad start for 2008. Billy was second in the last event of 2007 last weekend and now he picks up with another podium to open the new year,” said Head Coach Lasse Ottesen. “Billy had the fastest time and Johnny had the fifth-fastest, so he's coming on, too.
“We may be a small team and don't have the numbers of the other nations, but we're strong.”
Demong used a familiar pattern: jump well enough to be close to the lead and then scorch the cross country race. In eight races, he has had the fastest time twice and the second-fastest two other times. Since March when he captured the silver medal in the individual event at the 2007 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Japan, he has won twice and had four other top-3s.
Tight pack at the front in 7.5K
World Cup leader Bjoern Kircheisen of Germany was 21st, but he held onto his overall lead. Teammate Ronny Ackermann was fifth and held onto his second place while Demong solidified his hold on third. After eight events, Kircheisen has 478 points, Ackermann has 466 and Demong 432.
Lamy Chappuis was third in the jumping stage – one round of jumping off the 96-meter hill – behind Finn Janne Ryynaenen while Demong was 12th. As they started the three-lap 7.5K race, Austrian Christoph Bieler was six seconds back of Ryynaenen, Lamy Chappuis was 12 seconds back and Demong started 42 seconds behind the Finn.
The top 17 jumpers were within a minute of the lead to start the race. “I put in a hard move in on the first lap to break up the pack and I caught the leaders,” Demong said. “I realized everyone was there, so I forced myself to slow down a bit because I didn't want them to let me pull while they took it easy until the end.
“But, honestly, I felt good and felt I could ski the race twice.”
By the 1.4K mark, Demong had moved into eighth place, 25.1 seconds back of the top three jumpers. At 2.5Ks, Lamy Chappuis was in front with Demong fourth, just 8.6 seconds off the pace. A half-dozen skiers were in front at 4Ks, Bieler leading with Demong right behind, a tenth of a second back and Lamy Chappuis 0.8 out in third.
“Until the last K, there were about 10 of us. Bieler and Jason skied smart. They were patient and waited for us,” Demong said, referring to Ackermann, Demong, plus Petter Tande and Magnus Moan of Norway, who were sixth and 10th, respectively, in jumping. Coincidentally, Moan edged Demong Dec. 30 in a photo finish to win by 0.2 seconds.
“Then they stayed behind us and saved some energy. In the last lap, we put in a hard K. Bieler died. Jason opened up a gap and I couldn't get back to him. I was leading for a while, but didn't want to let everyone have a free ride. I found myself fighting with everyone to get someone else to lead and finally just pulled over so someone else would pull.”
Rain sprinkled throughout the jumping and during the cross country race before downpour hit as the event ended.
Ottesen said, “Billy's in such good race shape. He had the fastest time again and who knows if a little tactical thing could have made him a notch better in the last lap. There are 10 guys fighting all the way, going back and forth.
Next goal: boost jumping consistency
“None of us are happy with the jumping competition. I wish we could have had the trial round as the competition round – Bill went 92.5 and Johnny jumps 91.5, and they were fifth and seventh, or so. But that's not realistic and they still skied so well. Johnny's in good shape and now we want to get him back on track with his jumping.”
The German Grand Prix is a three-event series-within the World Cup races. Saturday's competition was shifted from Ruhpolding because of poor snow in early December. The final event is set for Sunday, an individual competition with a 15K race following two rounds of jumping. Demong and Moan are tied for the points lead, each with 160 after two events. In 2004, Todd Lodwick (who retired after the 2006 season) won the Grand Prix championship.
2008 WARSTEINER FIS NORDIC COMBINED WORLD CUP
German Grand Prix
Schonach, GER – Jan. 5, 2008
1. Jason Lamy Chappuis, France, (3/12)
2. Bill Demong, Vermontville, NY (12/1) 0.2 seconds back
3. Magnus Moan, Norway, (10/2) 0.7
4. Christoph Bieler, Austria, (2/20) 4.7
5. Ronny Ackermann, Germany, (5/8) 7.1
20. Johnny Spillane, Steamboat Springs, CO, (27/5) 59.7