Demong turns in solid World Cup finishes

CHAUX NEUVE, France – Billy Demong had two solid performances over the weekend but finished out of the medals at nordic combined World Cup competitions.

Demong, a native of Vermontville and a gold medalist from the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympics, placed 13th in Saturday’s 10-kilometer individual race, and then joined fellow American Bryan Fletcher to place seventh in Sunday’s two-skier team event, a result that was just five seconds off the winning time.

In the individual race, Demong stood in 35th place after the jumping portion, and then turned in the seventh-fastest ski result to move up into 13th place. His finish time was 28 minutes, 31.8 seconds, which was 1:17.4 behind the winning time of Norway’s Mikko Koslien, who led his nation’s sweep of the top three positions. Eric Frenzel of Germany took fourth and another Norwegian, Magnus Moan was fifth.

Fletcher, of Steamboat Springs, Colo. placed 28th in the field of 42 who competed. His finish time was 29:208

“Today was a decent day,” Demong said following Saturday’s competition. “Tough conditions on the hill with changing wind and I was a little disappointed with the jump especially after the good provisional yesterday, but the conditions on the course were some of my favorite: deep slushy snow and a hard track. So I really went out and tried to ski a well-paced race and was pretty excited that I felt as good as I did at the end, able to dig deep and push hard to the line.”

Demong and Fletcher battled for the lead during Sunday’s team race, which saw both athletes ski a 7.5k leg before settling for seventh place. They worked their way into the mix after starting 31 seconds back following the jump portion. The duo finished in 35:05.8. A second U.S. team of Brent Denny and Taylor Fletcher moved up from 20th after the jump to finish in 16th place.

The Germany II tandem of Tino Edelmann and Fabian Riessle took the gold medal with a 35:00.8 finish time.

“I think today was pretty good overall,” Demong said. “We had some really solid jumps and put ourselves in a position to fight. We were certainly in the mix the whole race, but there is a ton of jockeying for position when you have six or seven teams together in a sprint.

“Honestly, we have been training towards more sustained racing for the 5- and 10-kilometer events and not as much for the staccato of sprinting, so I feel good about our performance given our current focus,” Demong added.

Olympic selection continues for U.S. athletes next weekend at the Seefeld World Cup, with team nominations to be announced Jan. 22.