Demong to carry U.S. flag at Olympic Closing Ceremony

U.S. teammates chose Nordic skier for the honor; he also proposed to his girlfriend

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U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team member Billy Demong, who lived and trained in Steamboat Springs, celebrates his gold medal during the follower ceremony after Thursday's individual large hill competition at Whistler Olympic Park in British Columbia.

— Chalk another honor up for Nordic combined skier Billy Demong.

The U.S. Olympic Committee has announced that Demong, who won the gold in the large hill individual Gundersen event Thursday, has been selected as flag bearer for the 2010 U.S. Olympic Team at the Closing Ceremony. Fellow members of Team USA chose Demong, according to a news release.

Demong, 29, had a Thursday filled with excitement, which included winning a gold medal, being named flag bearer, and proposing to his girlfriend.

"Being chosen as flag bearer is a phenomenal honor," Demong said in the release. "It could have been any one of my teammates, and it is meaningful that our peers are taking notice of what we've achieved."

Demong of Vermontville, N.Y., was notified of the selection by cross-country skier Kikkan Randall of Anchorage, Alaska, on Thursday night. Earlier in the day, he made history by winning the USA's first-ever nordic combined gold medal in the large hill competition with a time of 25:32.9, four seconds ahead of teammate Johnny Spillane of Steamboat Springs. Demong's celebration continued Thursday night when he proposed to girlfriend Katie Koczynski, according to the release.

"I don't remember too much — it's been a whirlwind of a day," he said. "I think people have really found out how exciting our sport can be, and these games have been a fantastic way for everything to come to fruition." 

Competing in his fourth Olympic Winter Games, Demong captured two medals in Vancouver. In addition to Thursday's gold medal, he joined teammates Spillane, Todd Lodwick and Brett Camerota to win silver in the Nordic combined team event Tuesday.

Growing up in Lake Placid, N.Y., Demong made his first Olympic team in 1998 at age 17, and participated in his first World Championships the next year, the release stated. He competed in the 2002 and 2006 games, and last year, he won the individual Gunderson event at the 2009 World Championships.

The Closing Ceremony is Sunday at BC Place in Vancouver.

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