Updated February 28, 2013 at 6:37 p.m.
Steamboat Springs Billy Demong led the way for the U.S. Nordic combined team Thursday in the large hill competition at the World Championships in Val di Fiemme, Italy, skiing to a 15th-place finish.
Demong scooted past 10 racers after jumping to 25th place in the first stage of the day’s competition but finished 1 minute, 26.2 seconds behind champ Eric Frenzel, of Germany. Austria’s Bernhard Gruber was second, 36.7 seconds back, and France’s Jason Lamy Chappuis was third, 37.2 off the pace, after winning a world championship last week in the normal hill competition.
"It gives me hope that if I can continue to improve on jumping, I can fight for the podium again," Demong said in a ski team news release.
Strong skiing again defined the day for the U.S. squad, which was competing for the first time since grabbing bronze in a normal hill relay event Sunday.
Taylor Fletcher was close behind Demong, also shaving 10 spots off his jump. He climbed from 27th to 17th. Demong had the day's fastest skiing time, and Fletcher was second.
"I had a great race, but we had no chance to make it close to the top 10. I felt like Bill and I skied a solid race, and you can be happy with that, but we wanted so much more," Fletcher said in the release.
Bryan Fletcher moved from 24th to finish one spot up at 23rd. Johnny Spillane skied to 30th after jumping to 43rd.
The final World Championships event is set for Saturday. It’s another team relay event, which is good news for the Americans, who recorded a third-place finish in a World Cup start earlier this season in addition to last week’s championships podium.
To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253 or email jreichenberger@SteamboatToday.com