Bib Mystery: American Bill Demong Disqualified from World Championship Team Event

Posted By: The Ski Channel on February 26, 2009 6:45 am

Life isn’t always easy, and for the U.S. Nordic Combined Team, today fell in line with the cliché. With two World Championship gold medals in the bag for American comeback kid Todd Lodwick, and a bronze so far for U.S. star Billy Demong, Team USA seemed assured of a World Championship medal in the combined team event. However officials at the FIS Nordic Ski World Championships in Liberec, Czech Republic disqualified Demong today, when he temporarily lost his starting bib. The remaining three athletes completed their jumps, but couldn’t compete for a medal without their teammate, and withdrew from the cross-country portion of the event.

The day started like any other, and Demong simply tucked his starting bib into his suit—the usual thing to do when it’s snowing, so the bib stays dry. The athlete even looked at his bib as he rode the chairlift to the start, to ensure he had the correct number.

When Demong got to the start, his bib was gone. The starter gave him a forerunner’s bib, but the official jury soon disqualified him under International Competition Rule 526.1, which requires a competitor to wear their start number in competition. Just minutes later, Demong discovered his bib down by his boot, as it had slipped down his leg when he walked down from the lift.

"I take responsibility, for sure,” said Demong. “But it does no good to worry about spilled milk. We’re now just looking ahead to Saturday."

"It was an unfortunate turn of events," added U.S. teammate Todd Lodwick. "But it’s also proven that our team has moved on from getting down in situations like this as we might have in the past. We’ve grown tremendously over the past few years.

"A philosopher once said: ‘You’re going to learn more from your mistakes than your victories,’" Lodwick continued. "All we can do now is help pick up our teammate and move on."

Of course the world kept turning, and Japan capitalized on the Americans’ loss, and won the event by a hair over Germany. Norway collected the bronze.

The final Nordic World Championship event is Saturday with a large hill jump and 10K cross country where both Lodwick and Demong will fly for more gold.

photo: USSA