Reuters - Fri, 26 Feb 03:21:00 2010
Bill Demong of the United States won gold in the Nordic Combined individual large hill, amid controversy over conditions during the ski jump section.
Gusting winds and heavy rain battered the hill as the leading contenders were jumping. That meant they put in unusually short leaps and started the 10km cross country race with large penalties, ruling them out of medal contention.
Among those affected were Magnus Moan of Norway, Felix Gottwald of Austria and World Cup leader Jason Lamy Chappuis of France who is usually a very strong jumper.
"The problem is the wind and the snow, in training I was always in the top four and after this I was 29th. So it was impossible for me to win a medal," said Lamy Chappuis, who won the individual normal hill event last week.
"There is still a bit of anger. The jury wanted to go all the way at all costs so for the last five, they just gave the green flag without even looking at the wind conditions."
Moan described the jumps as "a joke" while Nicolas Michaud, head of the French team, said the decision to continue with the jumps was a scandal.
"It wasn't worth getting up this morning. We'd have done better to stay in bed and buy a lottery ticket," he said.
The ski federation said the wind had been within permissible levels, adding that it was impossible to guarantee everyone would have exactly the same conditions.
"In such difficult conditions not everyone can have a perfect jump. Sometimes you're lucky, sometimes you're not," technical delegate Guenter Csar said.
"It's hard. Right now the French and the German guys are pretty bummed. We've been here too," he said.
Demong jumped before the winds really whipped up and ended up in sixth place at the start of the cross country race, 46 seconds behind leader Bernhard Gruber of Austria.
Demong and team mate Johnny Spillane caught up with Gruber at the 4km mark and the three men then stayed together until about 600 metres from the finish line.
Spillane earned a third silver medal of the Games after second-place finishes in the normal individual hill and team events. Gruber, who won a gold in the Tuesday's team race, ended up third.
And the victorious US team had a polite message for their rivals - we won fairly, so there's no use whinging about the wind.
"This is an outdoor sport and I can tell you that most of the time the last five or 10 guys have the best conditions. So it trades off all the time," said Spillane.
"Today was definitely very difficult but it was still a competition."
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