WHISTLER, BC (Jan. 17) - Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) came from behind to take third Saturday in a DKB FIS Nordic Combined World Cup at the Whistler Olympic Park. A day earlier, the U.S. Ski Team veteran was the winner in the first of two Olympic test events at the 2010 venue. Norway's Magnus Moan was the winner Saturday in a three skier sprint to the finish.
The U.S. Ski Team had a strong weekend including Billy Demong, Brett Camerota, Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane. (Getty Images-Jonathan Ferrey)
"Today was one of those days where it's right to the very end and you don't know what's going to happen," said Demong. "You've got the fastest skiers all together working together and Anssi [Koivuranta] skiing well, holding on to everything he's worth in the stadium on the last lap."
Demong, second in the jump in Friday's opener, found himself in eighth despite a strong 130.0 meter jump Saturday. He started the cross country 1:12 behind World Cup leader Anssi Koivuranta of Finland and two seconds behind Moan.
"Today the strategy was completely different going into the race," he said. "I didn't have quite as good a jump because I felt a little more pressure having won yesterday. I have to learn to deal with that. Going into the cross country 1:12 back, you have to put the hunt face on right from the start cause there's no messing around."
Demong began closing the gap to Koivuranta immediately, but so did Moan and German Bjoern Kircheisen. At one point there was a pack of a half-dozen racers - some moving up, some dropping back - all chasing down the Finn peloton style.
"Magnus [Moan], Bjoern [Kircheisen] and I were like, 'let's do this - 'obody be selfish, let's all work together,'" said Demong. "We helped each other and left it down to the sprint. I think I did a little too much work at the end but then again we needed everything we could to catch Anssi. It's an exciting day for me."
The pack had closed the gap to the World Cup leader to just six seconds with 800 meters to go, before the Finn faded setting up an epic sprint between Moan, Kircheisen and Demong. In the end, the Norwegian got his toe across first, with Kircheisen getting the officials' call on a photo finish for second.
"I was kind of hoping for first or second right down to the last 10 meters," said Demong. "We knew we were going to fight for the podium, but we didn't know we were going to catch him till the last lap."
The win vaulted Moan past Demong into second in the World Cup standings with the American third.
It was a strong day for the Americans, with Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO) skiing the third fastest cross country leg to finish 11th with Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) another second back in 12th. Brett Camerota (Park City, UT) had a career best 24th.
Demong was extremely pleased with the two days of test events at the Whistler Olympic Park in what proved to be a spectacular venue.
"This was a great weekend," he said. "Yesterday was awesome. Today I felt like I didn't have a great jump and I was still able to play ball so that's important to me because the average level of jumping into the top 10 like that is what leads to the podium.
"As far as skiing in the race and watching that race from a spectator's standpoint, it was one of the most exciting nordic combined competitions of the year."
The World Cup will take a break before resuming Jan. 31-Feb. 1 in Chaux-Neuve, France kicking off a three weekend string before the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic.
DKB FIS NORDIC COMBINED WORLD CUP
Jan. 17, 2010
Individual Gundersen Start
(jump rank, XC rank, time back)
1. Magnus Moan, Norway (7/5) 25:18.7
2FF. Bjoern Kircheisen, Germany (11/1) +0.4 seconds
3FF. Bill Demong, Vermontville, NY (8/4) +0.5
4. Anssi Koivuranta, Finland (1/20) +6.3
5. Mario Stecher, Austria (2/15) +20.3
11. Johnny Spillane, Steamboat Springs, CO (28/3) +1:08.7
12. Todd Lodwick, Steamboat Springs, CO (25/6) +1:09.4
24. Brett Camerota, Park City, UT (30/14) +2.44.3
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Billy Demong skates to third. (Getty Images-Jonathan Ferrey)