OBERHOF, Germany (Dec. 30) - World Championships nordic combined medalist Bill Demong (Vermontville, NY) came from 94 seconds back to start a 15K race Sunday to finish second by a stride in a foggy World Cup competition. Demong lost a photo finish to Norway's Magnus Moan. It's Demong's third podium of the young season and he moved into third place overall in the standings.
Moan edged Demong by one-tenth of a second for his seventh win. Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO), 32nd after two rounds of ski jumping on Oberhof's 140-meter hill, moved up 11 places during the race to finish 21st in the so-called individual competition.
"From the top of the ski jump I couldn't see the takeoff in the fog. You have to know the move and go by feel," Demong said. "On my second jump, I had no idea where I was in the fog. I thought I was going about 140 meters." He jumped 126 meters. "But the track was hard and in great shape, so we had an excellent race."
Demong, 15th in jumping, started four seconds behind Moan in the six-lap, handicap-start race where starts were based on jumping results. He moved into seventh place by the 5K point, cutting nearly 50 seconds off the lead. At 10 Ks, he was third, 17.4 seconds back of Germany's Ronny Ackermann. At the 12.5K mark, Demong led Moan by 0.4 seconds. Moan pulled away with a kilometer or so to go, but Demong caught him and they sprinted for the photo finish.
Demong: "I got my orders..."
Demong lost two photo finishes last season, coming in fourth each time, so he's always prepared for a final lunge. When he earned his silver medal in the individual event at the 2007 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Sapporo, Japan, last March, his final lunge was in a near-photo finish.
"I think this was more exciting than Worlds," he said, referring to the tightness of the last two laps as he dueled with Moan. "I had to catch Magnus [at the start]. He and I talked before the race - and I got my orders from him: don't go too fast and let's work together. He led hard for the first two laps, so I was hurting. I had to get over the travel here and work off Christmas," he joked.
After taking the lead, he and Moan worked to create a gap on the field. Ackermann hung with them but never seriously challenged. "With one K to go, I told Magnus to get back in front, and as soon as he did, Ronny got in between us somehow," Demong said. Magnus went for it and put about 50 meters on us in maybe 50 meters, but I figured he was good for 10-15 seconds, then he'd slow down. I was patient."
He passed Ackermann on an uphill and took over after Moan, catching him as they neared the stadium for the finish. "We both stuck our foot out [at the finish line] and it's probably within an inch, maybe two, that Magnus got it," he said.
Demong said he took things relatively easy at home, doing some light skiing daily but no speed workouts and also taking maybe two-dozen jumps. "The jumps were in great shape, so that went well. I even jumped one night off the 40-meter hill with the local juniors. Thanks ORDA," he said, chuckling in reference to his main sponsor, the Olympic Regional Development Authority. He also spent time with The Weather Channel, doing live reports from the Adirondacks on behalf of ORDA.
Slow start after travel, holidays
"So, I had to work through those first kilometers, but then I felt better and could push it," he said. "I really pounded it to catch Magnus in that last kilometer."
Head Coach Lasse Ottesen said despite the holiday break, Demong clearly is in competitive form. "His jumping is stable and his [cross country] skiing is so strong. Billy's skiing with a lot of confidence. Johnny had some trouble with his last jump - the wind was changing today and he definitely didn't get good wind - but he skied so well, too." Demong had the fastest time and Spillane turned-in the 12th-fastest 15K.
Ottesen said they would stay and train on the 100-meter hill in Oberhof before heading to Schonach for the final events of the annual German Grand Prix where there is only a 100-meter jumping hill. "There's Schonach but also Seefeld [Austria, which also has just a 100m hill], so the small hill training here will be valuable," he said.
The competition began the three-event German Grand Prix. The next two World Cups Jan. 5-6 in Schonach will complete the annual series.
German Grand Prix
Oberhof, GER - Dec. 30, 2007
Individual (140m jumping/15K)
1. Magnus Moan, Norway, (14/2)
2. Bill Demong, Vermontville, NY, (15/1) 0.1 seconds back
3. Petter Tande, Norway, (13/3) 9.1
4. Ronny Ackermann, Germany, (2/9) 11.8
5. David Kreiner, Austria, (4/11) 30.2
21. Johnny Spillane, Steamboat Springs, CO, (32/12) 3:09.3
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Click here for complete results.