Last weekend in Lillehammer, Billy Demong’s 11th place was discounted due to a penalty lap miscounting error in the new Nordic Combined pursuit format. In Saturday’s Gundersen format World Cup in Ramsau, Austria, he remained consistent with 11th place—improved, if you consider that last week he would have finished further back if he’d done a fourth penalty loop.
Norway’s Jan Schmid won on Saturday with his first career World Cup victory. Two of Schmid’s teammates have won World Cups this season so far—Magnus Krog in Kuusamo and Haavard Klementsen in Lillehammer—demonstrating the depth of the Norwegian squad.
According to Demong, the lead pack of 10 athletes stuck together for much of the 10 k race. The competition came down to a final sprint to the line between Schmid, current overall leader Tino Edelmann (GER) and Jason Lamy Chappuls (FRA).
The separation in jumping points was slim between the leaders going into the race. A mere 17 seconds divided the day’s best jumper, Chappuls, from the 10th-place man.
Demong’s jumping on the 98-meter normal hill improved dramatically in Ramsau over last weekend. He was in 14th heading into the cross-country portion. Demong attributed the gain, in part, to some new skis.
“Today was definitely much better jumping for me,” he wrote in an email, adding that his new skis “seemed to work!”
Fourteenth started him 33 seconds back from Chappuls. At the start of the race, Demong was feeling confident that he could win, but the flat course ended up not suiting his strengths.
“Magnus Krog (NOR) and I set out hard and worked really well together,” he said. The pair traded the lead on and off, but with the group of 10 skiers in front of them splitting the workload amongst the whole pack, “we were always 20 seconds behind,” Demong explained. He ended up +17.3 from the winner.
After several World Cup weekends under his belt this season, the Olympic gold medalist is feeling pretty good heading into the rest of the winter.
“I felt awesome in the race…and was able to push really hard the whole way,” he said. “I had the best legs of the year so far so I think good things will come when we get back on a more challenging course!”
Demong’s teammates also fared well in Ramsau. Bryan Fletcher improved upon last weekend, ending up in 21st with the 15th fastest cross country time. Todd Lodwick was not far behind in 29th, and Johnny Spillane finished in 37th.
World Cup Nordic Combined competition resumes on Sunday in Ramsau at 11:30 am CET. Live results can be followed online at FIS.
Full results from Saturday.
Audrey Mangan (@audreymangan) is an Associate Editor at FasterSkier and lives in Colorado. She learned to love skiing at home in Western New York.