VIKERSUND, Norway - World Champion Billy Demong (Vermontville) ended the season Sunday with a strong win in the final DKB FIS Nordic Combined World Cup in Norway, winning the prestigious King's Cup, one of the sport's top honors. It was his fifth win of the season and eighth of his career.
Demong was presented with the King's Cup in the private viewing box of Norway's King Harald V, who attended all of Sunday's events in Vikersund, west of Oslo. The Cup was also won by American John Bower in 1968 and is considered one of the highest honors in nordic combined. "It was a real honor," said Demong. "It's part of a goal I've had since first coming to Oslo and the Holmenkollen ten years ago."
Finland's Anssi Koivuranta, who needed only two points to clinch the title over Norway's Magnus Moan, was eighth to take the globe, finishing with seven wins. Demong finished third for the second straight year, despite skipping two weekends to prepare for World Championships, where he won gold in the large hill event.
After finishing 17th in the jump, Demong methodically worked his way through the pack to take a 9.8 second victory over Petter Tande of Norway.
"It's nice to finsh the season with five podium places in the last five competitions," said Demong. "These results give me a lot of motivtion to start training for next season with a focus on the Olympic Winter Games. One of the reasons I took a break [late January/early February] was to finish strong."
Demong put down a 107.0 meter jump to finish 17th, starting the 10K cross country segment 53 seconds behind Austrian leader Christoph Bieiler. Koivuranta was in a good position, 31 seconds back, while Moan was well out of the hunt in 43rd, with a 1:44 disadvantage. Demong was happy with his jump, especially with the final ten jumpers, including him, losing the headwind that had been there earlier. "I'm very happy with where I jumped the last month and a half," he said. "With the conditions this week, my jumps were really good."
With no strong cross country skiers right behind him, Bieiler held the lead through the halfway mark where Demong finally caught the lead pack and was in the lead by 6.8K. Koivuranta, meanwhile, held close but started fading in the final kilometers. Demong, meanwhile, had a tough battle with Tande from the 7K mark until the last half kilometer when he sprinted away to the win.
"Bill started out conservatively and worked his way up to Bieler," said Coach Dave Jarrett. "When he got to Bieler, he took control. People tried to ski with him but he and Petter broke away and skied together for the last half lap. Mikko [Kokslien] was closing quickly. On the end of a long climb Bill made a move to drop Petter and won going away.
"Tactically he did a good job with what he had to work with to make sure Mikko didn't get too close and to drop Petter."
"Bieler kind of surprised me," said Demong. "But I wanted to start pretty controlled today. I had a good feeling in the first few laps. Coming into the last K, I was able to go harder and harder all the way. That's a good way to race!"
It was one of the first times this season Tande has been a factor. Demong and Tande battled to the final race last year, with the Norwegian beating Demong for second in the overall.
"I was really happy for Petter and Mikko - it was Mikko's first podium. It was a good way for them to finish," said Demong.
Demong came into the season with goals of gold in World Championships and five World Cup wins - both of which he achieved. When the schedule was changed this fall to 30 races spread across five months, he did not focus on the overall. "It takes some things off me and also helps me prepare for next year," said Demong.
When asked what he would be doing now that the season is over, he was quickly to reply: "I'm going [home] to Park City for vacation." But he also said, "and I'm picking up a new road bike on Tuesday."