SOLDIER HOLLOW, Utah - Mission accomplished.
Vermontville native and Olympic champion Billy Demong has earned his U.S. Nordic Combined Team an additional slot for the World Cup tour, bringing the team's total number of spots up to five. That's important because it's the same number of spots the team will have at the Olympics in Sochi, Russia this coming February.
Demong earned the extra spot with three top finishes at the FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup series in Solder Hollow, Utah this week.
Bill Demong speaks at a press conference at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
A four-time Olympian, Demong normally competes on the higher-level World Cup tour, which he did as recently as Sunday in Ramsua, Austria, where he earned his season's best ninth place.
Demong took a break from the tour to fly back home to Utah and compete in three Continental Cup events, just to earn the final slot on the U.S. team. He finished first, second and first in competitions Tuesday through Thursday.
"Bill has a job to do," Greg Poirier, nordic combined coach of U.S. Ski Team, said in a press release issued Monday. "His goal is to finish ranked among the top three to earn our team a fifth World Cup quota spot as we enter period two and the final Olympic selection block. Having that extra quota spot is vital in our preparation for Sochi."
Not only did Demong help his team, but he showed he's jumping well. He's best known for his strong skiing in this sport that combines the two disciplines.
Demong started Thursday by winning the jump competion with a massive 95.5-meter ride, giving him a 40-second lead going into the cross-country race.
Demong maintained his lead throughout the entire race. Austria's Tomaz Druml took second, followed by Hugo Buffard of France.
"I really invested a lot of time and effort this summer into jumping and have a very stable platform," Demong said in a press release. "The potential is much higher this year. Honestly, the last couple days the jumps have been getting better and better as I have gotten acclimated to the time. I'm excited about the direction I'm going. Having a good head start like that is really good training because being top ten in a World Cup and winning a race of any kind, it's a different mentality. It's good to have practice being out front and experience what that feels like to be the hunted person instead of hunting other people down.
Demong will now return to the World Cup team, which will have its Olympic Team Trials on Saturday, Dec. 28 in Park City, Utah. The winner of that competition will automatically make the U.S. Olympic Team. The remaining four slots will be determined by competition results and will be named in January.
Demong remains one of the top athletes on the U.S. team is expected to earn a spot.