Demong wins Nordic combined

LIBEREC, Czech Republic -- Bill Demong bounced back from his blunder in the team competition to earn his first world title, winning gold in the Nordic combined large hill event on Saturday.

Demong erased a 52-second deficit to Jason Lamy Chappuis of France and then pulled away from Bjoern Kircheisen of Germany near the end to finish in 23 minutes, 36.6 seconds at the world championships. Kircheisen was 12.8 seconds back for silver, while Lamy Chappuis finished 31.4 back in third.

Demong's first world title comes two days after he was disqualified for losing his bib ahead of his ski jump in the team competition, ruining the United States' chance of a medal. He took bronze in the normal hill event Sunday.

Demong, of Vermontville, N.Y., was in seventh place after the ski jump portion on Saturday but gradually closed in on the leaders, catching up to Kircheisen and Lamy Chappuis at the 6-kilometer mark. The Frenchman was forced to give ground shortly afterward, and Demong shadowed Kircheisen the rest of the way before making a decisive push shortly before entering the stadium.

He had a comfortable lead on the home straight, raising both arms and letting out a yell as he crossed the finish line.

Lamy Chappuis soared 131 meters in the ski jumping round, which was restarted once and disrupted by changing wind conditions. It was four meters farther than Finland's Anssi Koivuranta, who was in second place but pulled out of the decisive 10-kilometer freestyle race because of an illness.

As Demong was waiting for his turn to jump, he held up his bib to a TV camera with a smile, and said his teammates had helped him get over Thursday's mishap.

"I was pretty disappointed, more for them than for myself, like I let them down," Demong said after the ski jump. "But they said right away, 'It's a stupid mistake and an accident, let's just go home and forget about this day.' "

Todd Lodwick, the American from Steamboat Springs, Colo., who won both previous individual events in Liberec, finished 10th, 1:13.5 behind Demong. Lodwick had a disappointing jump of 117 meters and started the ski race 1:38 back in 23rd place.

Norway's Magnus Moan, another favorite, advanced from 33rd place to finish fifth.

Koivuranta's illness ended a disappointing worlds for the overall World Cup leader, who finished fourth in both previous individual events.