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Seeking gold in Nordic

Demong leads group competing for national title

U.S. Nordic Combined skier Johnny Spillane catches air at Howelsen Hill Friday during training for the U.S. National Championships, which will begin Saturday.
John F. Russell

— The value of hard work was clear to Bill Demong the minute he crossed the finish line of the Nordic combined individual event at the 2007 FIS Nordic World Championships.

“Every single day and every single minute and every training session was worth it,” Demong said.

The exhilaration of winning the silver medal consumed the moment, but Demong was quick to point out the journey began years ago. He has been a member of the U.S. Team for eight years and spent seven years living in Steamboat Springs.



“It’s all part of a progression,” Demong said. “I saw this day coming two years ago. I knew that this was going to be my year and my chance to win a medal.”

So while the rest of the world may have been shocked earlier this month when Demong claimed the silver medal in the 15-kilometer individual event, he wasn’t. The finish marked one of the most impressive runs in Demong’s career with the Nordic combined team. He also had a World cup victory in Lahti, Finland and a third-place finish in Oslo, Norway.



“I’ve been building this entire season,” Demong said. “When I arrived at the World Championships, I was skiing really well, and I was thinking that this could be the day I’m going to win a medal.”

This weekend, Demong is looking to cap off one of the best seasons of his career with another strong showing at the Nature Valley U.S. Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships.

“I’m just hoping for some good performances,” Demong said. “I can’t wait to get back to Steamboat. I’ve got a lot of friends here, and it’s one of my favorite places in the world.”

The championships will begin at 8 a.m. today when the quest for the first of two special jumping titles begins on the HS 127 Hill at Howelsen.

That event will be the first part of the Nordic combined national championship, which will be decided following the 7.5-kilometer cross-country race that’s scheduled for 5 p.m. at the rodeo grounds. The final championships of the weekend will take place at 8 a.m. Sunday on the HS 100 jump.

Demong’s recent success makes him a favorite not only in the Nordic combined event, but also in the two men’s special jumping titles.

However, several other contenders, including former World Champion Johnny Spillane, will be looking to upset their teammate. Demong said he isn’t really thinking about the national titles, but just about finishing the season with another strong showing.

“I’m really just looking forward to the chance to spend a few days relaxing in Steamboat,” Demong said.

Demong lived and trained in Steamboat Springs for seven years and only recently moved to Park City, Utah in order to be closer to the U.S. Ski Team’s base. He won national titles in 2001 and two in 2002.

There will also be several members of the U.S. Ski Team’s World Cup B team competing this weekend. The team is coming off of a strong showing in Kuusamo, Finland March 16 to 18.

Among the top finishers was Alex Miller who finished in ninth place in a 7.5-kilometer sprint event and Bryan Fletcher, who finished 19th. There was a 15-kilometer individual event that included top finishes from Alex Glueck (18th), Fletcher (19th) and Davis Miller who finished 22nd. The U.S. team had six skiers in the top 25 of the event.


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