Saturday, February 24, 2007
Former Steamboat Springs resident and U.S. Ski Team veteran Bill Demong finished 13th at Friday's 2007 Nordic World Ski Championships in Sapporo, Japan.
"I was bummed after the jumping because being late cost me 10 meters in my jump, Demong said. "But the second half of the day went all right."
Demong, 20th after the sprint event's one and only jump, recorded the third fastest time in the 7.5-kilometer cross-country race.
Demong started the cross-country race, which was held in soft snow conditions, nearly two minutes after jump leader Bjoern Kircheisen of Germany, but managed to move up seven places in the overall standings. Finland's Hannu Manninen, who was ninth following the jumping portion, posted the fastest cross-country time en route to winning the first World Championship of his career. Magnus Moan of Norway finished three-tenths of a second after Manninen to get second and Kircheisen held on for third place.
Steamboat's Bryan Fletcher, the only other American to finish Friday's race, placed 40th in the final standings. Eric Camerota was disqualified for a jump suit violation. Steamboat's Johnny Spillane, who was nursing a sore left shoulder that he injured in dryland training, opted not to race after jumping to 30th place.
A strong week of training - coupled with struggles by Manninen and others-sparked hopes Demong would contend for a medal and shock the field in much the same way Spillane did in Val di Fiemme in 2003 when he earned the World Championship sprint title.
"He has been really solid all week, and he knows he could have been battling for the podium if he'd jumped the way he had in training," coach Lasse Ottesen said.
But there would be no surprising the field Friday and no medals for the Americans. Demong said his takeoff on the 134-meter hill in Japan was costly, and despite his heroic effort on the cross-country course, he could not make up the time he needed to break into the top 10.
"Our guys did a great job waxing our skis. I just wish I'd jumped better, so I could really have taken advantage of how well they did my skis," Demong said after the race
The Nordic combined skiers will be off today, but return to the spotlight Sunday when they will compete in the team event.
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