U.S. nordic combiners lend time to help grow sport


Bill Demong has accomplished a great deal in his career as a nordic combined athlete. With six World Cup podium finishes, including one win, and third place on the World Cup overall podium in the 2008 season alone, Demong knows what it takes to become a great nordic combined athlete and he wants to give others a chance to become the same.
BILL DEMONG has accomplished a great deal in his career as a nordic combined athlete. With six World Cup podium finishes, including one win, and third place on the World Cup overall podium in the 2008 season alone, Demong knows what it takes to become a great nordic combined athlete and he wants to give others a chance to become the same.
    Last summer, "Billy's Kids," a camp that provides a group of junior nordic combined athletes the opportunity to train under the direction of athletes like Demong and Johnny Spillane, was created.
    "I was mainly motivated by a team Johnny Spillane and I were a part of. It was formed in 1996 and they put together a camp that consisted of the top juniors in nordic combined and special jumping," Demong said. "After a year or two, out of that group of nordic combined athletes, four of us went on to win world juniors as a team. Johnny went on to win World Championships and I got a silver medal.
    "We had a lot of success out of a year or two of development. Since then there hasn't been a program like that."
    This summer, Demong, with help from Spillane and U.S. Nordic Combined Head Coach Dave Jarrett, will put on two camps in Steamboat Springs, Colo., and in Park City, where they will train junior athletes ages 16 to 20.
    "It's fulfilling to be able to have the time and the resources to be able to spend even just a few weeks with these athletes," Demong said. "I think this is just the start and we need to focus on continuing this and making it a part of nordic combined in the U.S."
    To further the progress of athletes from his camp, in addition to the summer schedule, Demong hopes to provide additional training and funding in the future.
    "We're hoping to take a select group from this summer's camp to one of our national camps in Europe," Demong said. "We're also trying to raise some funding to help facilitate world junior and Continental Cup trips. It will help bridge that gap between domestic and international athletes."
    Demong believes that if they can keep making steps forward with this camp, the outcome will mean better nordic combined athletes for the national team.
    "Ultimately, we'd like to not only continue with this group, but also put into place even deeper development with 14 and 15 year olds. We're trying to identify the talent at each level," Demong said. "I think as long as we can continue to have camps like these and teams like these for kids to put their sights on, it will help to feed the success at the international level that we've enjoyed for a decade."
    Demong, whose first summer camp took place at the end of June, is looking forward to seeing the young athletes develop this summer.
    "I think so far we've had a good start and we have a talented group. I have a lot of hope for them. They're a great group to work with," Demong said.

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