CHAUX-NEUVE, France (Jan. 17) - World Champion Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) just missed the podium Sunday, leading the way for the U.S. in fourth during a World Cup nordic combined competition in France.
Magnus Moan of Norway won, followed in second by Jason Lamy Chappuis of France and Mario Stecher of Austria in third.
Starting 50 seconds back of the lead group, Demong had to fight to make up time, moving up to fourth by the 2.8K mark. Demong continued to push, winding his way to just 8 seconds back before a little fatigue set in.
"It was a solid race, for sure, but I was pretty tired at the finish and lost the sprint to Magnus, Jason and Mario," Demong said. "But, all-in-all it felt like a very strong day and I think it's the feeling I'm looking for going into this training period right before the Olympics."
Demong led for the U.S. followed by Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) in 13th and Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO) in 16th.
"It's a step in the right direction for Billy's racing for sure," U.S. Nordic Combined Head Coach Dave Jarrett added.
The day started out tough for the U.S. in the jumping round due to a storm that was blowing in to the Chaux-Neuve area.
"It was a lot of different weather during the jump comp. A snow storm blew in and it was windy, but we were able to pull it off anyway. I had a decent jump," Demong said.
According to Jarrett, it would have been possible for the provisional jumping round to be used, but a sliver of clear weather had athletes taking to the jumps.
"The provisional jump would definitely have worked in our favor with Billy and Johnny [Spillane; Steamboat Springs, CO], but you can't plan on using it," Jarrett said. "It looked like it was going to happen. They canceled the trial round, but they happened to get a little window and they had to jump."
After the jumps, Demong was on a mission to race better than he has this season.
"I thought I had a chance in the race. I went out and put my head down today because I've been feeling better, but I need to get some good hard racing under my belt," Demong said.
"Bill had a great race, but Magnus caught him," Jarrett said. "He skied with Magnus the whole race and they traded off spots. Magnus made a move at the end and Billy covered him, but at the top of the hill he was just a little bit cooked from it."
The plan now for Demong, along with the rest of the U.S. team, is to get their last chance at training in back at the USSA's Center of Excellence prior to the Olympics.
"It's time for us to come home, regroup and get ready for the Olympics," Jarrett said.
According to Demong, the plan that led he and the U.S team to World Championship success in 2009 will be what they use now, just weeks till the Olympics, to prepare for the Games.
"The training program we had going into the Games and World Championships in the last four years is really good. It's for fine tuning and getting those precious few seconds, especially in the finish," Demong said. "I'm looking forward to doing what we normally do and trusting it because I feel really close to some really good races and I couldn't ask for more."
The Team will now head back home to Steamboat Springs and Park City, before coming together the first week in February for a final pre-Olympic Camp in Utah.
FIS Nordic Combined World Cup
Chaux-Neuve, France - Jan. 17, 2010
1. Magnus Moan, Norway, (14/1) 24:10.8
2. Jason Lamy Chappuis, France, (2/15) +1.0 (seconds back)
3. Mario Stecher, Austria, (7/6) +13.6
4. Billy Demong, Vermontville, NY, (9/2) +14.8
5. Pavel Churavy, Czech Republic, (6/8) +19.9
13. Todd Lodwick, Steamboat Springs, CO, (21/9) +1:17.1
16. Johnny Spillane, Steamboat Springs, CO (13/26) +1:34.2
35. Brett Camerota, Park City, UT, (18/47) +2:46.7