Bill Demong skied the challenging 10 kilometer course in Holmenkollen in 24 minutes and 18.4 seconds, moving him up 22 spots from 29th to seventh.
“The jump competition was disappointing. But I’m vying for a spot on the relay team,” Demong said with a grin. Demong won the gold medal at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver, and was hoping for a podium Saturday, which he considered within reach on a good day.
Todd Lodwick was the second best American, finishing in eighth.
“The race was good, jumping was not good,” Todd Lodwick said, noting that he gave everything on the course. “It was a grudge fest out there. It was pure will at the end there,” he said.
Lodwick pointed out that the conditions – falling snow and basically no visibility on top of steep and technical loops – made for a hard day at the office.
The second-best ski leg (24:25.6) belonged to Felix Gottwald (AUT), who moved up from 15th place to the podium for the bronzed medal. Eric Fretzel (GER) won the competition. After delivering the best jump of the day, Fretzel was able to fend off the other racers on the course as well, even though there were plenty of racers with faster times for the ski leg.
Johnny Spillane, who just recently returned to World Cup racing after recovering from a knee injury, felt that things were easier on the course than on the hill. Now he’s focusing on posting better results in the jumping.
“I obviously have to jump better, and I pretty much speak for all of the team there,” Johnny Spillane said to FasterSkier after the competition. Spillane moved up from 34th to 19th on the course, and had the fifth fastest cross-country time of the day.
Promising from the rookie
Despite knowing he has more to offer on the hill Taylor Fletcher posted his strongest international result in a World-Cup caliber field: 26th place.
“I am definitely happy with my race. I was able to move up quite a bit, from 39th to 26th. I caught a lot of people on the first lap, but then I skied two laps of the race entirely by myself. I never really latched onto a real group,” Fletcher said, explaining that skiing with people makes a big difference.
“I’m hoping to build on this through the World Championships and into the end of the World Cup and finish strong in Lahti,” Fletcher said.
Bryan Fletcher had the best jumping result of the five, starting the cross-country in 10th place, one minute behind the leader Eric Frentzel (GER) who also ended up winning the competition. However, Fletcher lost significant time on the course and dropped 12 spots to 22nd.
Complete results here.
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.