Demong leads U.S. team Saturday |

Demong leads U.S. team Saturday

— Billy Demong led the U.S. Nordic combined Ski Team on Saturday in the first of two days of World Cup competition in France.

Competing at Chaux-Neuve, Demong skied up from 35th place to finish 13th. Bryan Fletcher, the only other U.S. skier to compete Saturday, finished 28th after jumping to 38th.

"Today was a decent day," Demong said in a U.S. Ski Team press release. There were "tough conditions on the hill with changing winds, and I was a little disappointed with the jump, especially after the good provisional."

Demong had the fifth-best jump in that provisional round but couldn't match it on competition day.

He still skied well, however, logging the day's seventh-fastest time.

"The conditions on the course were some of my favorite: deep slushy snow and a hard track," he said. "I really went out and tried to ski a well-paced race and was pretty excited that I felt as good as I did at the end, able to dig deep and push hard to the line."

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Jumping — at least when the pressure is on — continued to bedevil the Americans. Fletcher was 38th, a big step up from his 49th-place provisional jump, but not close enough to allow him, with the 22nd-fastest ski time, to threaten the top racers.

The two other Americans competing, meanwhile, didn't rank high enough after those provisional jumps to compete Saturday. Taylor Fletcher was 58th, and Brett Denney was 60th.

That provisional jumping round also is where Todd Lodwick crashed, sending him back to the United States on Saturday for further evaluation on a shoulder injury.

To reach Joel Reichenberger, call 970-871-4253, email or follow him on Twitter @JReich9

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