TRONDHEIM, Norway (Dec. 6) – The U.S. Ski Team's Bill Demong (Vermontville, NY) capitalized on perfect jumping conditions Saturday to finish fourth in the season's third nordic combined World Cup competition in Trondheim. Norway's Magnus Moan won the event.
“It's a little bitter sweet. For sure you want to be on the podium, but it's also great to be back in the hunt and I think that's a big part of the game,” Demong said. “The jump for me today was finally at a good level so I was able to have a good enough position to at least fight for it today in the race.”
“We're really happy that he jumped better. It's always nice when they jump better in their competition than they do their trial round,” Gilbertson said. “We don't have any worries about his cross country performance because we know that it's there and it's something we can depend on. All in all, fourth is good.”
Demong was 21st back when the cross country race began and fought his way nearly to the top, finishing fourth in the charge to the finish. The top six finishers were all within 4.2 seconds of each other.
Magnus Moan of Norway pleased the home crowd, winning the sprint to the finish. Moan and Demong started the Cross-Country portion only a second apart.
According to Nordic Combined Coach Chris Gilbertson, Demong's ability to jump better in the competition than he did in training was a good sign in his performance.
“There were six of us at the end skiing together and it was anyone's game,” Demong said. “I was a little tired from the climb up from 21st and I didn't quite pull it together, but it was a good race overall for me.”
“He went after Magnus in the cross country. Magnus tried to break away at least twice and Bill would bring the group back up to him” Gilbertson added. “He just felt like toward the end of the race he had given a little too much and he didn't have it to catch him. He gave everything he had.”
Demong led three other U.S. athletes in the competition, with Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO) finishing 13th, Eric Camerota (Park City, UT) in 49th and Alex Glueck (Steamboat Springs, CO) in 52nd.
“Eric and Johnny didn't quite get the same that they were doing in trial,” Gilbertson said. “I'd like to think we're not totally there yet in hitting our stride.”
Jason Lamy Chappuis (FRA) finished second and Finn Anssi Koivuranta held onto the World Cup leader's bib, taking the final podium spot.
Lamy Chappuis, who had big problems with his back this summer, said about his strong skiing performance: “It was an advantage for me to ski in a group with strong cross country skiers, for sure. Alone, I wouldn’t have been able to catch the best jumpers.â€
Koivuranta has surprised even himself with such a strong start to the season. â€œI knew that I was in a good shape and I expected good results. But I did not count to be on the podium in all first three World Cup events.â€
Demong's cross-country time of 23:45.8 was the 6th fastest of the day and the second best (behind Moan) for skiers finishing within the top 18 overall. Mikko Kokslien posted the fastest time of the day, 8 seconds ahead of Demong.
With very little time on snow prior to the season, the US Team had struggled with jumping in the first two competitions, but found some quality on-hill time after training last week in Lillehammer.
“We had some great training. We went down to Lillehammer and just tried to get more skiing under the belt,” Gilbertson said. “It just helped them feel better and I think we're getting there. They feel comfortable on this hill, which is good. I hope tomorrow will be better.”
The World Cup continues Sunday in Trondheim with another HS131/10K.
Contributing Sources: USSA, Fischer Skis