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Vermontville’s Demong ready for last jumps of Olympic career

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KRASNAYA POLYANA, RUSSIA — Vermontville native and Olympic gold and silver medalist Bill Demong is gearing up for his first nordic combined competition at the Sochi games.

The men’s individual 10-kilometer normal hill event is set for Wednesday. Nordic combined includes ski jumping and cross-country skiing.

Demong, 32, is competing in his fifth and final Olympics.

“It was really final that I was done after this,” Demong told reporters after a training session Monday at the RusSki Gorki Ski Jumping Center. “I’m entertaining hitting a few events next year to get ready for the team event at the World Cup, but I’ve got a few things going on at home. Unless I’m here in a different sport or capacity in four years’ time, it’s totally off the table.”

The first official Olympic training sessions in nordic combined started Sunday. In three jumps that day, Demong placed 43rd with 38.4 points, 43rd with 43.5 points and 37th with 49.1 points. The first jump on the second day of training, Monday, was canceled. Demong placed 33rd with 33.9 points in the second jump and 30th with 50 points in the third training jump.

In today’s sessions, he tied for 45th in his first jump with 48.1 points, was 35th in the second jump with 55.4 points and placed 34th in his last training jump with 47.4 points.

Demong has also been training on the 2.5-kilometer cross-country ski course at RusSki Gorki.

“Yesterday it was very soft,” he said Monday. “It’s not even slushy. It’s mushy, and it’s very hard to ski on. There’s no structure to the snow, and the person who can float the best wins.

“The tempo will not be the same as the normal snow conditions, and it will be very tough. The race will separate people. I felt pretty bad when I did my intensity yesterday, but I could do my jumps here today and felt fine.”

Demong and six-time Olympian Todd Lodwick, 37, are the veterans of the U.S. nordic combined team, but they’ve both been ailing lately. Lodwick dislocated his left shoulder and suffered a fractured arm and rib in a fall last month. Demong also said he’s been sick recently.

“(It) doesn’t worry me,” he said. “I think our team has been jumping well on the larger hills recently. There’s definitely five or six teams here who have medal potential and we’re definitely on that shortlist.”

Demong won a gold medal at the Vancouver Olympics in the individual large hill competition. He and Lodwick were also was part of the U.S. squad that took silver in the team relay.

Asked if he came back to the Olympics seeking an individual medal, Lodwick said that “is something that of course has been on my list of things, along with this (shoulder) injury. The team believes in me, I’ve done the work and deserve to be here.”

Joining Demong and Lodwick on the team in Sochi are brothers Bryan and Taylor Fletcher, ages 27 and 23, respectively.

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