LAKE PLACID, NY ??вЂќ The Lamb Lumber World Cup B Nordic Combined races ended Saturday with Norway’s Kenneth Braaten stopping Bill Demong of the United States from a sweep of all three Lake Placid events.
Braaten’s sprint victory was completed over a gusty 7.5-kilometer course at the Verizon Sports Complex, and avenged a poor performance in the mass start jumping event held earlier in the morning.
Matthias Menz of Germany was second overall on the strength of a second place finish in jumping and seventh in cross country. Ski jump leader Michael Hollenstein of Switzerland grabbed third place at day’s end. Demong was sixth, one minute and three seconds from the top.
Braaten stood fifth after Friday’s 10 kilometer cross country skiing leg, but a disappointing 14th place effort off the 90 meter ski jump hill Friday morning dropped the Norwegian to fourth overall.
“I didn’t handle the jumps so good earlier in the week,” said Braaten, who placed third in both ends of the competition. “I need to work on my consistency. But my goal was to achieve the A level (of World Cup racing) and I achieved my goal. I’m satisfied.”
Demong came out Saturday much hotter than the -16 F temperatures. But as the mercury rose to the mid 20s, so did Demong’s prospects for another win. The 24 year old from nearby Vermontville, N.Y., jumped to the mass start victory to start his day, completing the effort he began Friday when he placed fourth in the 10-kilometer mass start cross country ski race. The two-time Olympian had jumps of 87.5 and 95 meters off the 90 meter hill, and ranked second in that half of the competition. The combination of results sent him to a second win after capturing Thursday’s individual 15-kilometer Nordic combined race.
“I am really satisfied with my jumping,” said Demong. “They were consistent. Especially here, it was a lottery of conditions. You have to take what the hill gives you sometimes.”
Nicholas Bal of France placed second in the mass start, while Menz, the cross country skiing leader on Friday, slipped to 11th in the jumping and wound up third overall.
With family and friends in the audience, Demong, wearing the yellow World Cup B leader bib, took a lunch break and returned to the jump hill seeking a sweep.
“I was trying to win the Triple Crown, but I had a brain cramp,” he continued. The 16th place jumping performance put him one minute, 28 seconds from Hollenstein entering the sprint cross country leg. “But I had the second fastest cross country time.
“My mission (in these B races) was to make the A cup,” Demong said. “When I left World Cup A, I was ranked eighth in the world. My goal will be to eventually climb back to the podium.”
That departure was caused by a severe head injury incurred two years ago. A subsequent change of jumping technique nearly dropped Demong off the Nordic combined circuit.
Now healthy, the youngster who grew up skiing and jumping Lake Placid’s hills returned to his previous jumping style. That combination now has him back where he belongs. Lake Placid, though, presented some unfinished business.
“I had never won any B races on the way up and wanted to win World Cup Bs. After winning the individual and the mass start, this was icing on the cake.”
Demong leaves the B tour seeking brighter lights and is well on his way. In five events at this level, Demong has won twice and placed second, third and sixth.