Kuusamo, Finland – The U.S. Ski Team’s Billy Demong moved up 13 places in cross country but it did little to brighten a tough Nordic Combined World Cup skiing season opener for the USA in Kuusamo on Friday. Demong made his way through the pack to move up from 45th in the jump to finish 32nd. Fellow Olympian Jason Lamy-Chappuis of France dominated the day, leading the jump and taking the win.nIt was a day of some massive jumps. Lamy-Chappuis led with a jump of 137 meters, taking the lead on style points. While Austria’s Eric Frenzel went an astounding 148.5 meters. Demong of Vermontville, N.Y., who jumped 50th, was well off the mark at 105.
In the quick turnaround 10k cross country, Lamy-Chappuis started two seconds ahead of Frenzel. The two battled the entire distance, with Lamy-Chappuis holding on for a 6.6 second victory margin. Austria’s Mario Stecher took third while teammate Felix Gottwald moved all the way from 21st to fourth.
Steamboat Springs, Colo.’s Bryan Fletcher led the USA in the jump, finishing 35th. Demong carried a whopping four minute, seven second deficit into the cross country and could do little but find solace in picking off skier after skier to move up 13 spots. Ironically, Finland’s strong Hannu Manninen was even further back in 48th, and caught Demong with the second fastest cross country time. Demong was 12th fastest.
Taylor Fletcher, also of Steamboat Springs, ended up 35th with Bryan 37th.
“It is hard not to be upset but in reality we are here with a new group of guys competing full time on the World Cup,” said U.S. Ski Team Head Nordic Combined Coach Dave Jarrett. “It is going to take some time to build them up to 2014. The new group is ahead of Billy and Johnny’s curve for their age and need to be mixing it up on the World Cup more often. If they (Bryan and Taylor Fletcher) can consistently be in the points, working their way up, we will be satisfied.”
Nordic Combined World Cup action continues today in the Finnish resort at the gateway to Lapland just south of the Arctic Circle.