Demong wins U.S. first Nordic combined Olympic gold

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Bill Demong won the United States first ever Olympic gold medal in the Nordic combined Thursday, beating teammate Johnny Spillane and Bernhard Gruber of Austria at the Whistler Olympic Park.

Spillane finished four seconds behind Demong's winning time of 25 minutes and 32.9 seconds for his second silver medal in the individual large hill/10K at the Vancouver Games, while Gruber took the bronze 10.8 seconds behind.

"I had my expectations open all day. I had moments where I thought it (winning gold) was possible and moments where I just didn't care. But every moment was open," said Demong.

On the team tactics Demong and Spillane employed, Demong said: "we talked a little bit about it before. We definitely wanted to go 1-2. And we knew the key would be with teamwork."

"We wanted to keep it a two or a three man race and keep it from a 10-man race. So we just did that and reaped the benefits at the finish line."

Gruber started the cross-country portion of the competition with a 34-second head start after recording the highest score in the large hill ski jump. Demong was sixth after the ski jump and Spillane was second.

The U.S. had never before won a gold medal in the Nordic combined, which includes ski jumping and cross-country skiing.

Spillane was the first American to win any medal in the event when he took a silver medal in the normal hill competition 11 days ago.

"I'm completely satisfied with what happened today, it hasn't sunken in yet. I put myself in as good a position as possible coming into the Olympics," said Spillane.

"When we got about half way through the race it was pretty clear we have a chance to have two medals, we just didn't know what colour."

Spillane suffered a fall on the last lap, which is doubted to cost him the gold.

"It made it a little bit harder to win gold, but that was all my fault. I went too fast around that corner."

The United States, who had never won any medal in Nordic combined before the Vancouver Games, now has four at Olympics as they also won a silver medal in the Nordic combined team 4x5 kilometer relay on Tuesday.

Gruber was quite sated with a podium finish thanks to his leading jump. "The bronze medal is a really great job for me. It's a dream come true. I had a really good jump, I was lucky I had not great conditions but not as bad as the others," said the Austrian.

"When you are at the Olympics everything has to be in place and everything must be clear and perfect."

Top jumpers complained that weather conditions were unfair for the jump portion of the event.

Athletes jumped in wind, driving rain and snow and the original round was cancelled after 31 jumpers and restarted from the beginning.

World Cup leader and normal hill individual/10km cross-country gold medallist Jason Lamy Chappuis, who was the final jumper, lamented the weather difference after jumping 113 meters, placing 29th.

Currently, the United States and Germany both have eight gold medals to lead the medal tally, one more than Norway and host Canada, and Germany had an edge of 11 silver against the 10 for the United States.

Norway picked up its seventh gold medal Tuesday by winning the women's 20 kilometer cross-country skiing relay.

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