OSLO, Norway Native Adirondacker Billy Demong and fellow American Todd Lodwick put on an impressive show on the cross-country trails Wednesday, but it was not enough to crack the medals in the large-hill nordic combined at the 2011 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships.
Lodwick, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., was fifth and Demong, of Vermontville, was sixth as France's Jason Lamy-Chappuis took gold.
After the morning jumping round, Lodwick was 12th and faced with a one minute, 12 second deficit in cross country. Demong, the defending world and Olympic champion, was 1:35 back. While the field was definitely open, the gap was just too much to bridge.
Billy Demong attacks the final corner into the finish during the normal hill nordic combined team event at the 2011 FIS Nordic World Ski Championships Monday at Holmenkollen in Oslo, Norway.
(Photo - U.S. Ski Team)
Norway's Haavard Klemetsen and Lamy-Chappuis put down massive 133.5-meter jumps on the Holmenkolbakken, with Klemetsen taking a narrow six-second edge. Lodwick led the USA going 123.0 meters and Demong 117.5. While the time back for the top Americans was big, top stars like Germany's Bjorn Kircheisen and Austria's Felix Gottwald were even further back.
"Jason did a good job both jumping and skiing, as did the Germans," said U.S. head coach Dave Jarrett. "Those guys deserved to win. We're just a little bit short, but it's close. We're happy with fifth and sixth."
"We're still in there," Demong said. "It's bittersweet because we could medal, but at the same time, we're doing better than you would think.
FIS Nordic World Ski Championships
Oslo, Norway Mar. 2, 2011
Gold: Jason Lamy-Chappuis, France, (2/14) 25:31.6
Silver: Johannes Rydzek, Germany, (5/8) +6.7
Bronze: Eric Frenzel, Germany, (6/7) +7.0
5. Todd Lodwick, Steamboat Springs, CO, (12/6) +28.8
6. Billy Demong, Vermontville, NY, (20/2) +49.3
22. Johnny Spillane, Steamboat Springs, CO, (36/11) +2:02.5
30. Bryan Fletcher, Steamboat Springs, CO, (41/23) +2:57.6
35. Taylor Fletcher, Steamboat Springs, CO, (50/28) +3:41.2
"The impressive thing today was that we jumped better as a team."
As expected, the race was in Lamy-Chappuis' hands from the start. To his credit, Klemetsen hung in with the French World Cup leader much longer than expected. Meanwhile, Lodwick and Demong made their moves through the field. But the German duo of Eric Frenzel and Johannes Rydzek kept the pressure on never really attacking Lamy-Chappuis but ensuring the pace stayed strong.
"I knew the snow conditions were going to make the course a little slower, so I didn't go out that hard," Lodwick said. "I just gradually built into it and felt better and better.
"The guys with the skis in the wax room did a great job, and it made us feel better on the course knowing that what we have on our feet is the best we can do."
Jarrett said they had hope after the jump, but it would have taken a perfect scenario.
"We knew that those guys would have to have a really good effort to have chance. They were just about there but ran out of real estate at the end."
Demong, who had the second-fastest cross-country time behind Gottwald, caught Lodwick but could not pass him. In the end, Rydzek and Frenzel battled for silver and bronze with Klemetsen dropping to fourth, not a factor in the medals. Lodwick was 28.8 seconds back with Demong 49.3 out.
"Last lap when I caught Todd, there was nowhere to go at that point," Demong said. "I felt good, I skied hard, and I think I made up as much as I could today, given the conditions and everything.
"The other guys at the front skied well and kind of held the gap. I started pretty hard and didn't blow up by any means. But it was a day to go hard from the start, and I came out of it."
The season for Lodwick has been up and down as he's battled illness. While he was off the medals, he felt good for the first time.
"I finally feel like I can go out and compete and breathe, and I think today showed it," Lodwick said. "It's been an uphill battle. I get healthy; then I train. Then I get sick again and have to take time off. But I'm happy to be here at World Championships."
The final nordic combined event will be the large-hill team event set for Friday at Holmenkollen. Jarrett will name the four team members after Thursday's jump training on the big hill.