Oberstdorf NC: Demong 4th again in photo finish
OBERSTDORF, Germany — Bill Demong of Vermontville, New York, finished fourth in a nordic combined World Cup competition Saturday, aced out in a rare second consecutive photo finish, and teammate Brett Camerota earned his first World Cup point.
Felix Gottwald of Austria got his 19th victory, this one by 4.6 seconds. The win was Gottwald's first on the World Cup in more than a year, and he pulled it off with a strong climb up the final hill.
A two-time Olympic gold medalist, Gottwald finished the two jumps and 15-kilometer race in 37 minutes, 55.3 seconds, to edge Finland's Hannu Manninen. Germany's Sebastian Haseney was third, edging Demong. Both were 4.8 seconds back.
The top four finishers formed a group early in the cross-country race and passed Bernhard Gruber with two kilometers left. Gruber, who finished fifth in the race, had the lead after the best jumps — twice recording 133.5 meters.
Manninen now leads the World Cup standings after seven of 18 events. Manninen has 415 points, with Christoph Bieler of Austria at 396. Norway's Magnus Moan is third with 383.
Gottwald, who nipped Demong in a photo finish Dec. 30 in Ruhpolding, outskied defending World Cup champion Manninen for the win. Manninen had the fastest 15 km race with Gottwald second-fastest, Haseney third-fastest and Demong fourth-fastest as he vaulted seven places after being 11th in jumping in the final event of the German Grand Prix series of three competitions.
"Both fun and not-so-fun today. Certainly very good for Billy and good for Brett, too — his first World Cup point is important," head coach Lasse Ottesen said. "But Johnny [Spillane] was one of five or six guys who got hit with some dead wind in the first round; normally, that can come with the sport, but with these new rules that only the top 35 move forward for a second jump, it's vital that every athlete have as close to the same conditions."
Ottesen and coaches from Norway and Austria met with race director Uli Wehling, the three-time Olympic champion from the old East Germany who oversees combined for the International Ski Federation. There was agreement that athletes in the first round won't be rushed to jump if conditions fall off; they'll have extra seconds before having to jump.
"Billy's in a zone. Both of his jumps were good. He's skiing fast and he's right 'there' with the leaders. A podium's a podium, and it's what we want ... and losing it in a photo finish is frustrating, but Billy's fighting for the victory every time," Ottesen said.
"It was a quite a sprint at the end. Felix just got away and Hannu and Haseney and Billy were just tenths apart. Haseney beat Billy by maybe five centimeters."
After the large-hill jumping, Camerota was 34th — and started the 15 km in a wave start. "I said to Brett, 'Ski at your own pace. You'll go out and you'll be in a kind of no-man's land, so ski six laps at your pace and some of those guys up ahead will start falling off.' It was a good strategy. Brett kept moving forward," Ottesen said. "It's always good to get that first point."
Camerota, a 2006 Olympian, was second in a World Cup-B event at Steamboat Springs last month and earned his way onto the World Cup tour by finishing in the top 10 during the World Cup-B's first period, i.e., six events in the USA — at Steamboat, on Utah's Olympic jumping hills (Utah Olympic Park) and cross-country trails (Soldier Hollow), and finishing with the Lamb Lumber Classic in Lake Placid efore Christmas.
Next stop for the nordic combined World Cup is Jan. 13-14 in Val di Fiemme, Italy — site of the 2003 nordic World Championships, where Spillane won his gold medal in the sprint.
WARSTEINER NORDIC COMBINED WORLD CUP
German Grand Prix
Oberstdorf, Germany — Jan. 6, 2007
Gundersen (K137/15 km)
1. Felix Gottwald, Austria, (12/2)
2. Hannu Manninen, Finland, (15/1) 4.6 seconds back
3. Sebastien Haseney, Germany, (13/3) 4.8 seconds back (won photo finish)
4. Bill Demong, Vermontville, N.Y., (11/4) 4.8
5. Bernhard Gruber, Austria, (1/25) 51.3
30. Brett Camerota, Park City, Utah, (34/27) 5:58.0
(Eliminated after 1st round of jumping (top 35 qualify):
Johnny Spillane, Steamboat Springs, Colo.
Click here for complete results.