LAKE PLACID, NY ??вЂќ Bill Demong’s return to the highest level of international Nordic combined racing took another upturn Thursday when the Vermontville, N.Y. native won a Lamb Lumber World Cup-B Nordic Combined race in Lake Placid.
The two-time Olympian, who lives 15 miles from the hills where he learned to jump and ski, captured the Gundersen individual 15 kilometer competition in come-from-behind fashion.
In clear, cold conditions, Demong placed fourth in the morning’s 90 meter ski jump portion of the event. Demong flew 91 and 95 meters for 240.5 points, but trailed Germany’s Florian Schillinger at the MacKenzie-Intervale Ski Jumping Complex. Schillinger led with 254.5 points on jumps of 97.5 and 95.5 meters.
This differential put the German on the 15 kilometer cross country course well before Demong.
However, midway through the skiing at the Verizon Sports Complex, the American had overtaken Schillinger and established himself as the clear cut leader. Demong won the overall ahead of runnerup Nicolas Bal of France, who was seventh after the ski jumping. Meanwhile, Schillinger dropped to sixth place by the race’s conclusion.
“I had some contact with these guys last week at Steamboat Springs (Colo.), and I knew that if I let up they could catch me,” said Demong. His cross country margin of victory propelled him to the top, and was made sweeter in the presence of his parents.
Coupled with second and third place performances last weekend, Demong will now wear the World Cup-B tour’s leader bib heading into Friday’s Lamb Lumber sprint race.
Third place was taken by Matthias Mehringer, leading a third through sixth German finish.
“This was probably my best jump competition all season,” said the winner. “I had solid technical jumps, especially with tricky and difficult winds in the second jump.”
A capricious breeze in the second round turned into a downdraft – not advantageous conditions for any ski jumper ??вЂњ and led to fluctuating distances in the final round.
With outstanding results in these B level events, Demong is looking to re-join internationally acclaimed teammates and fellow Olympians Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane.
“I’ve given myself a chance to go back to World Cup-A,” continued Demong. “The injury is now a thing of the past”, referring to a concussion suffered two years ago.
“I was fortunate. My brain is back together and my body is back in shape.”
In the meantime, life is good on his way back to the top.
“It was a beautiful day with nice weather and a great World Cup event.”
The same could be said for Demong’s performance.