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February 7, 2014

After 2010 breakthrough, Billy Demong's still skiing

Billy Demong competing in fifth Olympic Winter Games

(Continued)

People at home took notice after Vancouver.

“I think people are much more aware of what Nordic combined is and Nordic skiing, in general,” he said. “The public knows some of the names, and they’re eager to watch the event.”

STARTED AT AGE 9

Demong, 33, began Nordic combined when he was 9 and made his first Olympic team at 17. Nearing the end of his career, he has started thinking about the impact he’s had on the sport.

“A lot of the reason I decided to keep skiing was to help pass the torch to a new generation and also keep building my own legacy, which is growing Nordic combined and Nordic skiing in general,” he said.

These will, in all likelihood, be Demong’s final Olympics — he said he has “no plans to be here four years from now.”

He hasn’t decided when he will retire, but he does plan to compete next season.

MENTORING

The U.S. team has a bit of a younger feel now — Spillane is retired, and 20-somethings Taylor and Bryan Fletcher have joined.

As one of the elder statesmen, Demong has embraced the mentor role. In fact, that was part of his motivation for continuing his career.

“The first couple of years (after Vancouver), I spent a lot of time and energy helping educate some of the younger guys,” he said.

“And since they’ve been getting to the point where they’re beating me as often as I beat them, I’ve been able to step back and focus on my own skiing.

“I think the Fletcher brothers are great athletes and ambassadors for the sport.”

‘A DARK HORSE’

But Demong is not in Sochi just for a curtain call.

He freely admitted his jumping was subpar last season and said that’s where he focused his energy during the summer.

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