One (OK, Four) for the History Books
For the U.S., the nordic highlight was four medals by the combined squad
BY PETER Q. GRAVES WITH U.S. SKI TEAM REPORTS
Billy Demong sprinted to a four second win over Bernhard Gruber for the large hill nordic combined gold.
WHISTLER, B.C. — The pace of the nordic competitions at Whistler
Olympic Park was as torrid as that of the skiers themselves: 28 medal
events over just 17 days. But it wasn’t just the pace turning heads; it was
also the performances by the U.S. nordic combined squad, whose years of
training and dedication paid off in a big way: one gold and three silvers for
the American boys. Suddenly, nordic combined has become one of the hottest sports in the county. It was an historic turning point. Now, a snapshot
of some of the nordic action.
February 26: Billy Demong Wins Gold
After more than 80 years of waiting, the dream came true for the sport
of nordic combined. And it happened in epic fashion. Billy Demong of
Vermontville, N. Y., secured USA’s first-ever nordic combined gold medal
in the large hill competition, with teammate Johnny Spillane of Steamboat
Springs finishing four seconds behind for his third Olympic silver at Whistler Olympic Park. It was a day of mixed weather conditions in front of a
huge crowd, with many Americans making the trip to Whistler.
The duo worked seemlessly from the start and finally pulled clear of
Austria’s Bernhard Gruber in the final 500 meters, with the new Olympic
Champion Demong sprinting to a four-second win over his U.S. teammate.
“There’s only one way to go,” said Demong. “Today, I left enough in the
tank to be able to do that. It’s the first time all year I’ve had that there.”
After the jumps, Spillane was second and Demong was sixth after high-scoring leaps of 118.5 and 115.5, respectively. The two soon joined and began working together to move ahead of the pack in the 10K cross country