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Billy Demong changing nordic combined tradition

SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) - American Billy Demong was the first American ever to win a gold medal in nordic combined, and will try to win another medal in Sochi.
SALT LAKE CITY (ABC 4 Sports) - Nordic Combined is an Olympic event that blends two entirely different skills -- cross-country skiing and ski jumping. It has traditionally been an event dominated by Europeans, but American Billy Demong is helping change that. Dana Greene continues our Winter Olympic series, Going for the Gold.

No American had ever won a gold medal in a nordic event in U.S. Olympic history before Billy Demong took home gold in Vancouver in 2010. That's just incredible, seeing how this is a sport that dates all the way back to the original Winter Olympics in 1924.

"It's something that I don't think about often, but when somebody says it, it definitely resonates. I think right now I'm really focused on what can I do to increase that impact."

After winning two medals total in Olympic history, the U.S. team took home four in Vancouver, and is looking to build on that in Sochi.

"It's exciting to see this transition of a team that built a legacy of results in a sport that the United States wasn't historically good at, and than see the transition of not just a few individuals, but seeing a program that can earn great results at a high international level like the Olympic games."

Half cross-country skiing, half ski jumping, nordic combined is truly a unique event.

"There are guys who are the best ski jumpers in the world, but can't run a mile to save their life. Then, there are guys that are the best cross-country skiers and are 30 pounds heavier than me. So, we're specialists. We specialize in being able to do both."

This will be Demong's fifth Olympic games, but the 33-year-old's career almost came to an end back in 2002 when he fractured his skull, not jumping off a ramp, but into a pool.

"I dove in from pretty high up, hit the bottom of the pool and fractured my skull. It ended up being a year that I had to take off from ski jumping, but it really ended up being a huge year of personal growth for me. I got this idea of that I'm going to enjoy this because this is a gift to be able to be an athlete everyday. I really think it helped lead to the success that I had in Vancouver and the years leading up to that and since."

And hopefully Demong will continue his success in Sochi. 
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