Steamboat Springs United States Nordic combined Olympic gold medalist Bill Demong took globe trotting in the name of team to a new level this week.
Demong, fresh off a season-best ninth-place finish in an Austrian World Cup event Sunday, made his way back to the United States to compete in the Continental Cup on Tuesday in Soldier Hollow, Utah.
Demong was hoping to score top-three finishes at the Continental Cups on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday and earn the U.S. team an additional quota spot on the World Cup tour, which is vital to the team's preparation for the Olympic Games in Sochi, Russia.
So far, so good.
Demong withheld Italian Lukas Runggaldier’s late push to take a victory Tuesday.
“I skied quite a battle with Lukas Runggaldier, from Italy,” Demong said in a U.S. Ski Team release. “He's one of the fastest guys out there. He and I were first and second fastest at World Championships, and I eked it out right at the line.”
Demong jumped to third in the morning, leaving him 14 seconds back in the 1-kilometer cross-country race.
Steamboat’s Ben Berend had an impressive jump, starting in fourth just behind Demong.
Demong jumped out during the cross-country with Runggaldier right with him. The two sprinted to the finish with Demong edging in for the win.
Nick Hendrickson was 10th for the United States, while Berend was fourth. Adam Loomis was 16th, Michael Ward was 25th, Aleck Gantick was 35th and Tyler Smith was 37th.
“It was good, solid jumping,” Demong said. “I had a good weekend in Ramsau, and to be able to get off the plane and be competitive in jumping, I'm really psyched. All the work I did this summer on jumping is starting to pay off.”
The event continues Wednesday with a Gundersen normal hill event and 10-kilometer race.
World Cup competition resumes Saturday and Sunday in Schonach, Germany, with a pair of Gundersen normal hill events.
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229, email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @LukeGraham
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