TRONDHEIM, Norway (Dec. 7) – The U.S. Ski Team's Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO) and Bill Demong (Vermontville, NY) came together for two U.S. top-10 finishes Sunday as Spillane took fifth and Demong seventh in a World Cup in Trondheim. Finland's Anssi Koivuranta won.
“Today was just better jumping. I was more relaxed on the hill and not trying to control things as much. I think it allowed a better jump,” Spillane said. “As far as the racing went, the race was pretty good. I was third for most of the race but I was a little bit tired at the finish and wasn't able to hold on.”
Spillane was 14th out of the jumping round and ninth in cross country, and Demong was 31st in jumping and took third in the cross country event to finish seventh.
“Johnny jumped way better today. He had more confidence in what he was doing. We looked at videos last night of yesterday's jump and looked at a few things,” Nordic Combined Coach Chris Gilbertson said. “He's just had to put confidence into the move and it worked out.”
Koivuranta, who finished third in Saturday's competition, and currently leads the overall World Cup, held a 25 second lead after the jumping. More importantly he was a full 55 seconds ahead of third place and skiers who might challenge him in the cross-country.
“I enjoyed my very strong performance on the hill,” said Koivuranta, “and it was nice to get the first place. But during the cross country race it was much more difficult to ski alone and not in a group. My good ski, however, gave me the possibility to gain the victory.”
Bjoern Kircheisen (GER) led the chase but was never able to close the gap, finishing seconds, +25.9. Jason Lamy Chappuis (FRA) took home his second podium finish of the weekend, leading in a string of 12 skiers within 24 seconds of each other.
According to Gilbertson, Demong may not have jumped as well as he did on Saturday, but he did ski his cross country race better.
“I think he got a little too excited going into the comp round, maybe a little too much. So he paid for that but made it back up in the cross country race and skied a better race,” Gilbertson said. “I think he would admit that yesterday he went out too hard so today he tried to ski a little bit more in control. He just had confidence in what he was doing today and used his cross country skiing to get him up to his place.”
The Team had spent a few days last week in Lillehammer and, as far as Gilbertson said, the better the athletes are in jumping, the closer they will be to the podium.
“With Jumping, they are almost in the top 10 and our goal is to get them in there because when that happens podiums are possible,” Gilbertson said.
Eric Camerota (USA) turned in his best performance of the season, finishing 32nd, riding a 19th place jumping performance. His cross-country time of 25:08.4 ranked 44th. Alex Glueck (USA) finished 51st.
The nordic combined competition scheduled for Dec. 13-14 in Liberec, Czech Republic, has been canceled due to poor weather conditions and a decision on rescheduling has yet to be made.
The podium (Photo: Fischer Skis)