The United States is currently not recognized as a world leader in either cross country skiing or ski jumping, but somehow they've managed to build a world class Nordic Combined squad.
In two Nordic Combined World Cup events at Whistler Olympic Park last weekend, American Bill Demong won two medals, gold and bronze, while his teammates cracked the top-10.
In the opening event on Jan. 16, Demong won the gold medal, with the second highest points total from the ski jump on the HS 140 long hill, followed by the 10th fastest time in the 10 km cross-country race.
Anssi Koivuranta of Finland was the top jumper, and was given a 29 second lead in the cross-country race, but was 25th fastest on the course to drop to second overall.
Bjoern Kircheisen of Germany was 12th in the jump and fourth in the cross country to take the bronze medal.
The top Canadian was Jason Myslicki in 32nd place.
The following day Demong was eighth in the jump, giving up a minute and 12 seconds at the start of the cross country. He came through with a fourth place finish in the 10 km race to place third overall.
The win went to Magnus Moan of Norway, who was seventh in the jump and fifth in the cross country, followed by Bjoern Kircheisen who was 11th and first respectively.
The top Canadian was Myslicki in 30th place.
Although Canada was not a factor in the overall standings and the athletes don't generally compete at the World Cup level, the team will automatically get a spot in each of the three Nordic combined events in 2010, and are looking to qualify additional athletes.