Bill Demong finished sixth Saturday in a Nordic combined World Cup mass-start event in Liberec, Czech Republic, after posting the fastest 10K race time on the 2009 FIS Nordic World Championships venues. He strengthened his second-place standing in overall points.
One day after strong winds blew out a scheduled Nordic combined sprint, organizers decided Saturday morning to change the schedule for an individual event, with a 15K race, to the mass start. Gusting winds prevented early jumping, so the plan was to ski the race and wait for the winds to die down, which "worked perfectly," according to U.S. Nordic Director Luke Bodensteiner. "It turned out to be a beautiful day, nice and sunny, and they had a good comp."
Traditionally, combined events begin with jumping and finish with cross-country racing, but the mass start goes from a 10K mass start race to ski jumping. The field is cut to 30 after the first round.
Norwegian Petter Tande, fourth in the 10K, jumped to the victory with 250.8 points. Second was Finn Anssi Koivuranta, whom Demong edged last March for the silver medal in the individual competition at the World Championships in Japan. Koivuranta had 245.9 and World Cup leader Ronny Ackermann of Germany third.
Demong went 118 and 117.5 meters on his two jumps and finished sixth at 234.6 points. Johnny Spillane of Steamboat Springs did not compete because he was sick.
Demong remains second in the World Cup points behind Ackermann and gained 25 points on third-place challenger Jason Lamy Chappuis of France, who was 16th. Ackermann has 1,016 points with seven events left, while Demong has 781 with Lamy Chappuis is in third at 728.
The pre-Worlds events conclude Sunday with a sprint competition before the tour heads to Zakopane, Poland, for another mass start and sprint Feb. 23 and 24.