Demong will compete in his fifth Olympic Games
SARANAC LAKE – No surprise, but it’s official.
Billy Demong was named to his fifth United States Olympic team in a press conference Wednesday. The defending nordic combined gold medalist will also be joined on the team in Sochi by Todd Lodwick, who will be a six-time Olympian, and brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher.
Demong grew up in Vermontville and now lives in Park City, Utah, with the other three skiers all hailing from Steamboat Springs, Colo. In addition to winning a 10-kilometer large hill competition at the Vancouver Olympics, Demong claimed a silver medal, as did Lodwick, in the team relay event. Taylor Fletcher will be appearing in his second Olympics after competing in Vancouver, and Bryan, who is currently the top nordic combined skier for the U.S., will be in his first Winter Games.
“This team is a perfect mixture of Olympic veterans and young talent,” said U.S. nordic combined head coach Dave Jarrett, who announced the roster. “Demong and Lodwick have proven Olympic results that have set the bar high for the next generation to follow.
“The rest of the team is rising to the challenge with international results to back them up,” Jarrett added. “The team is well prepared for Sochi and we’re ready to compete.”
This will be the last Olympics for the 33-year-old Demong, who will retire from competition after Sochi. His first appearance in the Olympics was as a 17-year-old in 1998 in Nagano, Japan, and he then became a regular on the World Cup tour the following season. Demong has earned 22 World Cup medals, including nine golds, and also has four World Championship podium finishes on his resume, including a first-place finish in an individual event in Leberic, Czech Republic.
There is one more stop on the World Cup tour this weekend in Osterdorf, Germany before the Olympics. Although Demong has been out of the medals this season, he has been in the mix and is among the fastest skiers on the tour. In three events at last week’s Seefeld, Austria, World Cup, he placed eighth, 12th and 11th.
Bryan Fletcher had a pair of sixth-place races and one fifth-place finish in Seefeld.
“Bill is close to medal contention now,” Jarrett said. “The podium was in his grasp. Basically, it comes down to being in position after jumping. That’s going to be the key. He finished strong in Seefeld last weekend.
Unfortunately, all his really good jumps were in training. Now it’s just execution in the Olympics.
“I expect some good things for Bill,” Jarrett continued. “If anybody needs to peak both physically and mentally at the right time, Bill’s one of the best in the world at knowing how to do that.”
Jarrett admitted the team is taking a chance with Lodwick, who suffered a shoulder injury in a ski-jump crash Jan. 10 in World Cup action in France.
“We’re hoping he is going to be able to recover and contribute to the team,” Jarrett said. “There’s one thing that he really wants more than just being a six-time Olympian, and that’s a medal.”