Cycling has grown on Olympic skier

The following is an excerpt from an article posted at

Bill Demong’s introduction to cycling came through eBay.

About five years ago, the Olympic gold medalist was selling a ski racing suit. The man who bought it was an avid cyclist from Colorado.

“It was the one thing I’ve ever sold on eBay,” said Demong, who made history six months ago when he won the country’s first gold medal in nordic combined in the Vancouver Winter Olympics. Demong was one of hundreds of elite cyclists competing in the Tour of Utah this past week.

As a member of the Cole Sport Team (a Park City company), Demong wasn’t looking to win any medals. But the fact that a nordic combined skier can “hang with these guys” gives him an edge — mentally and physically — when he heads back out onto the World Cup courses in the winter.

What could have been a simple business transaction developed into a friendship. Jim Dunlap, of Fort Collins, bought the suit, and continued to keep track of Demong’s career. He suggested that they swap ski stuff for bike gear.

Dunlap even showed up at Nordic Combined National Championships in Steamboat Springs to root for Demong. Dunlap, who cycles despite battling multiple sclerosis, eventually convinced Demong he could compete in the sport.

“He’s the one that talked me into trying racing,” said Demong.

In 2006, he entered his first race at Dunlap’s urging. When Bill Demong arrives at a nordic combined World Cup course, he is a contender. Everyone knows him; everyone expects him to compete. In fact, he is known as one of nordic combined’s fastest cross-country skiers.

At his first cycling race, he enjoyed the anonymity that comes from being the new guy.

“I didn’t know anybody,” he said after Tuesday’s first time trial. “I got addicted.”

Eventually, however, he improved and moved up the ranks. Two years ago when he was riding with American Racers Against Drugs and Doping, he competed in 55 cycling races and about 30 roller ski events.

“That was the year I skied the fastest,” he said.

Last year he dialed down the cycling in anticipation of the 2010 Olympics, and he began riding with Cole Sport. He said finding time to train for the summer’s cycling events post-Olympics has been difficult.

After winning the first U.S. medal (a silver) in nordic combined, which is a sport that combines ski jumping with cross-country ski racing, in the team relay, Demong went on to win the country’s first gold medal in the sport.

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