Big day in Midway for Billy |

Big day in Midway for Billy

Bill Demong mugs for the camera after winning the combined sprint event on Friday at Soldier Hollow.

Howard Peterson, the big cheese at Soldier Hollow, was beaming. "We want more World Cup-B events. More! These are great, especially when Olympic places are at stake."

The occasion was the Homestead Resort Classic, a two-competition Nordic combined World Cup-B event last Friday and Saturday with jumping at Bear Hollow and cross-country skiing at Soldier Hollow. One win for the Yanks, thanks to Bill Demong, and one for the Euros, thanks to Germany’s Christian Beetz.

The World Cup-B tour is in Lake Placid this week with competitions Tuesday (too late for presstime) and Wednesday.

Demong made it three straight U.S. wins Friday, winning a combined sprint event following Todd Lodwick’s two dominating victories in Steamboat Springs, Colo., Dec. 10-11. But then those two Olympians should do well; they’re "varsity" combiners and when they go up against the JV on the World Cup-B, they should spank ’em.

The air came out of the Americans; balloon Saturday when, with Demong and Lodwick out, there no Yanks in the top 10. Park City’s Brett Camerota was 11th both days.

Bard Elden, U.S. head coach, echoed Peterson, noting, "One good day with Billy winning and Brett 11th, and one okay day with the mass start, with Brett 11th and Carl [Van Loan] 15th.

"We expect Billy and Todd to do well, and they did, but we’re a little under expectations for the other guys. They’re close ad I’m not stressed about it because I’ve seen what they can do – and what they can do here in Placid," he said Monday night as the group settled-in in Lake Placid. "I’m confident their jumping is going to get better."

A look-back at the Homestead Resort Classic:

Friday (sprint – one round of large hill jumping at UOP, 7.5K race at Soldier Hollow) – With temperatures in the mid-20s, Beetz led the jumping with Austrian Bernhard Gruber second, unheralded Davis Miller from Steamboat Springs finished fifth and Demong was 14th in the field of 77 skiers. In his sport’s handicap start system, with the jump leader going first and others trailing based on the number of points back, Beetz went out 34 seconds of Demong, who caught him at the end of the first 2.5K loop.

"Billy started hard to get up to him," Elden said, "and really spent some energy doing it, but he was cruising after that. He led and was skiing easily but Billy realized it would be close…but it’s got to be a good confidence-builder to win a sprint like that at the end." Demong’s winning margin was four-tenths of a second, just about one stride. The first seven skiers were less than 15 seconds apart.

Camerota was 25th in the jumping, but kept pushing forward during the three-lap race and finished 11th, just 29.9 seconds back of Demong. Eric Camerota was 19th in a pack of six skiers while Van Loan was 25th.

Saturday (mass start, a 10K race and then two rounds of jumping) – Beetz beat ’em. All of ’em.

Frenchman Sebastien Lacroix led the 10K mass start with a time of 23 minutes, 36.2 seconds with Italy’s Jochen Strobl second (23:37.0). Jed Hinkley was fifth in 23:52.2 with Van Loan seventh and Brett Camerota eighth at Soldier Hollow.

In the jumping at Utah Olympic Park, Russian Sergej Maslennikov led, but having been wa-a-ay back in 42nd after the 10K, couldn’t quite take the win. Jens Kauffman, one of Beetz’s German teammates, was second in jumping, but he was 25th in the 10K, and his combined points couldn’t overtake Beetz.

After being fourth in the 10K, Beetz was sixth in jumping, just enough to take the win with 244.8 points. In regular combined, it ends with a race and, with the handicap start, it’s the first guy across the finish who wins. In the mass start, they race and get points for their finish, then jump and get routine jumping points; add the two ends of the sport and it give you the winner.

Beetz finished with 244.8, three points up on Kaufman. Brett Camerota was 27th in jumping, giving him 11th overall, wile Van Loan was 33rd in jumping, dropping him to 15th overall. Forty-fifth in jumping, Hinkley saw his fifth place from the 10K evaporate to 38th while Eric Camerota, 20th in the race after a strong start, was 42nd in jumping and finished 42nd overall.

"Eric went out hard – he was in the first row and he got up to second place," Elden said, "and he stayed there until about 5Ks, but then he had to hang on. Carl and Brett and Jed were a row back of him but they worked their way up there and all three of them had a good race.

"Our cross-country is closer to where they’ve been," the coach, "but we’ve got to get their jumping back. It’s really tight and if we can get that jumping going, they’ll move up in the standings."

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