Slip-up a factor as US Nordic Combined Ski Team falters

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— It's a day the members of the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team would just as soon forget, and according to head coach Dave Jarrett, his skiers already have put Thursday's team event behind them.

"It's been a manic-depressive week for us," Jarrett said by phone from Liberec, Czech Republic, on Thursday morning. "It's over now, and we talked about it after the event, and we've put it behind us."

After a week of good news that includes two gold medals and a bronze, the members of the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team endured the first bad news of the World Championships in the jumping round of the team event. The team finished 12th in the jumping results after Billy Demong was disqualified for failing to have his bib when it was his turn to jump. The team elected to pull out of the cross-country race in the team event.

Japan won the team event, earning its first world championship since 1995. Germany placed second, and the Norwegian team took third.

According to a U.S. Ski Team release, Demong was preparing for the only official round of jumping when he discovered that his starting bib was no longer tucked inside his suit. The starter threw him a forerunner's bib, but the competition jury held him up and disqualified him under international competition rule 526.1, which requires a competitor to wear their starting number in competition.

A few minutes after his scheduled start, Demong discovered that the bib, which he had tucked inside his suit between the trial and official round, had slipped down inside the leg of his suit. But at that point, it was too late to do anything about it.

"He knew he had it when he got on the lift at the bottom of the hill, and he thought that he had dropped it somewhere," Jarrett said. "When he was getting ready before his jump he discovered it was missing, he couldn't find it, and he slipped into panic mode."

Jarrett said the other three American jumpers completed their jumps, but without Demong's effort, the Americans trailed the rest of the field.

"It was three jumps against four," Jarrett said. "We didn't have a chance, so we decided to skip the cross-country race and let our guys rest for the final competition."

Jarrett said the team watched the cross-country race on television and wondered what might have been. But after that, they gathered, discussed the day's events and elected to put the mishap behind them.

"It was an unfortunate turn of events," Todd Lodwick said in a statement from the U.S. Ski Team. "But it's also proven that our team has moved on from getting down in situations like this as we might have in the past. We've grown tremendously over the past few years."

The Americans, including medal winners Demong and Lodwick, will have one more shot at the Nordic World Championships this Sunday during a one-jump, 10-kilometer individual Gundersen event on Liberec's big hill.

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