KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia - Vermontville native Bill Demong tied for 31st place in the jumping portion of today's nordic combined individual 10-kilometer normal hill competition at the Sochi Winter Olympics.
The 33-year-old will start the cross-country ski portion of the event this afternoon 1:33 back of Eric Frenzel of Germany, who was the top jumper with 131.5 points. Demong scored 108.2 points.
Asked if he feels he can catch the lead group from his starting position in the ski race, Demong said it's doable.
Billy Demong of Vermontville jumps during the men's nordic combined individual normal hill 10-kilometer competition Feb. 12, 2014, at the RusSki Gorki Ski Jumping Center in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia. (Enterprise photo - Chris Knight)
"It's hard because there are so many guys in between there," he said. "I may make contact with the lead group, but to go through it is going to be tough.
"I need to focus on the process this afternoon. There are no games to play in the first three laps. It's going to be trying to ski within myself and make up the small pieces of time I can. I'm not paying attention to the people around me; it's just going to be time trialing.
"Then if I turn around at the halfway or three-quarters and things are going my way, then it's time to start playing."
Demong said the snow on the course has been chemically treated. It's firm, but slower.
"It's a very tough course no matter what," he said. "With temperatures and the salt they put down, if we have good skis and you lay down a good, strong pace, you may find yourself pulling up on guys you never thought you'd see."
Todd Lodwick of Steamboat Springs, Colo., was the next best jumper for the U.S. with 108 points, good enough for 34th place. He'll start 1:34 behind Frenzel.
Bryan Fletcher of Steamboat Springs was 41st with 105.6 points. He'll start 1:44 back. His brother Taylor Fletcher, also of Steamboat, placed last among the field of 46th jumpers with 92.9 points. He'll start 2:34 behind Frenzel.
The cross-country portion of the event, held at the RusSki Gorki Ski Jumping Center, will begin at 4:30 p.m. Sochi time.