Steamboat Springs The U.S. Ski Team's Bill Demong capitalized on perfect jumping conditions Saturday to finish fourth in the season's third Nordic combined World Cup competition in Trondheim, Norway.
Norway's Magnus Moan won the event.
"It's a little bittersweet. For sure you want to be on the podium, but it's also great to be back in the hunt, and I think that's a big part of the game," Demong said. "The jump for me today was finally at a good level, so I was able to have a good enough position to at least fight for it today in the race."
Nordic combined coach Chris Gilbertson said Demong's ability to jump better in the competition than he did in training was a good sign in his performance.
"We're really happy that he jumped better. It's always nice when they jump better in their competition than they do their trial round," Gilbertson said. "We don't have any worries about his cross-country performance because we know that it's there, and it's something we can depend on. All in all, fourth is good."
Demong was 21st back when the cross-country race began and fought his way nearly to the top, finishing sixth just behind Moan.
"There were six of us at the end skiing together, and it was anyone's game," Demong said. "I was a little tired from the climb up from 21st and I didn't quite pull it together, but it was a good race overall for me."
Demong led three other U.S. athletes in the competition, with Johnny Spillane finishing 13th, Eric Camerota in 49th and Alex Glueck in 52nd.
"Eric and Johnny didn't quite get the same (distance) that they were doing in trial," Gilbertson said. "I'd like to think we're not totally there yet in hitting our stride."
With very little time on snow prior to the season, the team had struggled with jumping in the first two competitions, but found some quality on-hill time after training last week in Lillehammer.
"We had some great training. We went down to Lillehammer and just tried to get more skiing under the belt," Gilbertson said. "It just helped them feel better, and I think we're getting there. They feel comfortable on this hill, which is good. I hope tomorrow will be better."
The World Cup continues today.