Olympic Champion Billy Demong sprinted to victory at the FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup on the 2002 Olympic course at Soldier Hollow. (Photo: Tom Kelly/U.S. Ski Team)
SOLDIER HOLLOW, UT (Dec. 17) – Olympic Champion Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) sprinted to victory over Italy's Lukas Runggaldier and Austria's Tomaz Druml at the FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup at 2002 Olympic venue Soldier Hollow. Demong began the day with a 91.5m jump, putting him into third to start the cross country portion. Italian Lukas Runggaldier, who started the cross country portion in fifth, caught up to Demong and the two battled it out throughout the entire race. In a dramatic finish, Demong edged out Runggaldier for the win.
Olympic Champion Billy Demong claimed a hard-fought victory over Italy’s Lukas Runggaldier in the FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup at Soldier Hollow.
Demong had a solid jump (91.5m), putting him into third to start the cross country portion.
Demong and Runggaldier were close throughout most of the race, with Demong edging Runggaldier out in a sprint to the finish line.
It was a strong day for U.S. nordic combined, with Nick Hendrickson (Park City, UT) in 10th and Ben Berend (Steamboat Springs, CO) finishing fourth in the jumping and 14th overall.
The FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup series continues Wednesday on the 2002 Olympic ski jumps at Utah Olympic Park and the cross country course at Soldier Hollow.
Billy Demong It was good, solid jumping. I had a good weekend in Ramsau and to be able to get off the plane and be competitive in jumping, I'm really psyched. All the work I did this summer on jumping is starting to pay off.
This is a tough tour – there are a lot of young guys coming up who trained hard all summer and are at a top level, or World Cup athletes who are trying to score points to get a spot back. Today, I skied quite a battle with Lukas Runggaldier from Italy. He's one of the fastest guys out there – he and I were first and second fastest at World Championships – and I eeked it out right at the line.
Lukas Runggaldier, Italy I caught Bill on the second lap and on the third lap I went in front of him because we had to make a faster tempo because the Austrian guys were closing behind us. On the fourth lap I tried to pull away but Bill was too strong. I tried two times to go but I was just too tired. Then on the last curve he went on the inside and I just couldn't go ahead without crashing. The last hundred meters he went ahead to win. I have two more races and we'll see what I can do against Bill.
Tomaz Druml, Austria We tried to start easy and then push it on the second and third lap to gain ground. But those guys in front came together and also tried to attack so we had a really hard time gaining ground. Those guys were a little bit better today so we'll try to be further ahead in ski jumping tomorrow and it will be easier. The speeds were very fast today. I'm not really satisfied with my jump – it was an average training jump and not what I'm capable of doing.
Greg Poirier, Coach I was really happy with Billy's jumping today. It's one thing since Vancouver that he's been really struggling with. Getting closer to Sochi, his jumping is getting better and better so it was really good to see him come back from World Cup and go on his home hill and put together a great jump in today's competition. The younger kids, including Ben Berend from Steamboat, had a great performance in fourth today after the jumping so it was good to see our juniors fighting amongst the leaders on the jump hill.