The son of an environmental biologist, Demong practically grew up on cross-country skis. The Vermontville, N.Y., native was racing by age 6, and he began jumping in a developmental program at Lake Placid. There his love for Nordic Combined, which marries ski jumping with cross-country racing, was solidified. The 29-year-old is a three-time Olympian who has had 10 World Cup podiums in the 2009 season. His hope is to bring home the first Nordic Combined medal for the United States.
1. Question: You're hoping to bring the U.S. its first Olympic medal in nordic Combined. What is your plan for this year's games?
Answer: We are on a very focused schedule. Head up Monday, do processing and compete on Saturday. And then we're just going to keep our heads down and train until our last two competitions. I'm not even sticking around for closing ceremonies, I'm going to head to the next world cup in Finland. We're focused... This is a great shot for us to do some first-ever, best-ever results for the U.S. in nordic combined. That's definitely our primary focus right now..
2. Question: This is the deepest U.S. team ever. What do you guys do to push each other, in training and at the races?
Answer: We've been more or less a residency program since the early '90s, and Todd (Lodwick), Johnny (Spillane) and I have trained together 200 days or more since I moved out west in 1997. We push each other really hard in training and now we're all at a very similar level in competitions. ... In almost every race this year, we've all been in contention to win at some point in the game. It's really kind of a special thing to have three guys of that caliber on the same team.
3. Question: With 10 World Cup podiums during the 2009 season, what has this pre-Olympic season been like for you?
Answer: It's been a little bit of a weird year. I fractured my shoulder in October and it was a couple months getting that back together. I started off jumping really well; it's been very consistent this year, but cross country-wise, I struggled a little bit in the beginning. The first few races, I was in a position to win but I kept getting out-sprinted and finished sixth, eighth, 10th. The last few World Cups, I was able to win one of the races, finished fourth and fight for the podium in all the last four races. Kind of gave me the confidence to know that we're doing the right things. Feeling healthy and feeling good about going to Vancouver.
4. Question: Do you change anything this close to the Olympics?
Answer: Most people know that racers travel with a ton of skis, but in jumping, your suit is more important, how it flies. I only have one or two pairs of jump skis at any given time, but I have usually four or five suits on the road with me. I have five or six I'm trying to go through to narrow down to two or three to take to Whistler. The fact that we can fly at 1 p.m. and get in at 5 p.m., it's super simple for us to travel up there. It definitely makes a difference to having the food and everything be more like home. We have a ton more friends and family up there. It's not our home Olympics, like Salt Lake, but it's as close as we'll get again in our career.
5. Question: With the increased visibility and higher expectations, do you feel more pressure as an athlete?
Answer: I think the pressure is different now. We're entering the Olympics now knowing we're good enough to fight for medals. We take the pressure well. We just need to do our normal best. It's not like trying to make something special happen, so I think that gives us more confidence. We've all been around the block enough to use any and all pressure and expectations in a positive manner.