PARK CITY, Utah - Olympic gold medalist Billy Demong of Vermontville placed fifth in the nordic combined Continental Cup Saturday, while Germany's Sebastian Reuschel claimed the top spot.
It was tough conditions for the international field as they the soared off the jumps at the Utah Olympic Park and skied at Soldier Hollow, sites of the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Snow was soft, forcing a tiring cross country portion of the competition.
Reushel had the longest jump of 130.0 meters, then held off the field on his way to posting the 17th fastest ski time to clinch the win. Norway's Joergen Graabak was second with the third fastest time, finishing .7 back. German Wolfgang Boesl rounded out the podium in third, holding the third position after the jumping round.
Vermontville native Billy Demong leads a pack early in the Saturday’s race during the FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup at Soldier Hollow near Midway, Utah.
(U.S. Ski Team — Tom Kelly)
"The course was very hard because it was so warm. It was very difficult for me. I did better in the first round and then lost power, so I was very happy to finish first," Reushel said. "I'm looking lap-to-lap. I don't have a strategy - just want to have a good race."
Demong, who sat 17th after the jumps with 105 meters, stepped on the gas catching and then challenging the leaders on the last lap. Demong posted the second fastest ski time (26:24.20) to make up a 1:40 deficit after the jumps to end 2.1 back.
"This helps my confidence a little bit; it was tough over in Europe. I felt really good before I left but the skiing was not as fast as I'm used to. I just didn't feel as strong as normal," Demong said. "Today was definitely a step in the right direction. Going out, leading and skiing my own race was more important than being pulled around. It was pretty good to put down five hard laps.
"It's a little tough to swallow subpar performances right now. I've done a lot of good work the past couple of months and I have high hopes for World Championships in February."
The Continental Cup tour will head to Erzurum, Turkey for the next series of competition on Saturday and Sunday.
Burke moves up to take 19th, shows signs of improvement
HOCHFILZEN, Austria - Two-time Olympians Tim Burke of Paul Smiths and Lowell Bailey of Lake Placid had strong performances at Saturday's IBU World Cup pursuit competition, finishing 19th (38:56.6) and 39th (40:36.8), respectively.
Norway's Tarjei Boe won the pursuit with a time of 36:32.4, and one miss at the range.
Staring Saturday's competition in 23rd, Burke moved up to 19th, despite having to deal with a heavy snowfall in Hochfilzen. With a clean prone shooting stage, and three misses in standing, Burke sees room for improvement.
"It's not quite what I can achieve but I will get there," said Burke.
Starting in 55th position, Bailey moved up 16 ranks to finish in 39th place, with two misses at the shooting range. For Bailey the race was an important step toward gaining more confidence for the upcoming races.
"I am patient this year with skiing since the World Championships are so far ahead in the season," Bailey said. "I took a big step forward today, that's for sure. I am really happy with my shooting. I trained for that for years and it's great to see it's working out. I hope I continue with that shape."