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(USSA press release)

PARK CITY, Utah (Dec. 12, 2014) — It was a grueling day at the Gorgoza Park tubing hill with tough and icy 10k cross country course. Defending FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup champion Tomaz Druml came from behind to lead an Austrian podium sweep in the season-opener in Park City. Druml came from a 40-second deficit to teammate Lukas Greiderer after Thursday’s jumping round to take the win by over 16 seconds. Marco Pichlmayer was third.

Olympian Taylor Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) led the USA, moving up from 26th after the jump to eighth. Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) was 13th.

Crews from the Olympic venue of Soldier Hollow moved the event to the Gorgoza Park location between Park City and Parley’s Summit, crafting a 1.5k loop that took athletes up the tubing hill three times on each of six laps. The course featured punshing uphills followed by screaming-fast downhills, making it a test of skill and fitness.

Greiderer held a very narrow lead after the jump over Germany’s Tobias Simon and Phillipp Blaurock. A fast-charging Druml had broken into the lead group by the second lap, with Simon and Blaurock slowly dropping back. Picklmayer, meanwhile, hooked up with Olympic champion Demong, who started just two seconds before him, and used Demong to pace through the midway mark of the race before pushing up to take third as Druml slow ran away with the lead.

Fletcher, meanwhile, posted the third fastest cross country leg of the day but his over two-minute gap was just too much to close. Fletcher and Demong had been hoping for a podium spot to seal a World Cup quota spot for the U.S. Ski Team.

Friday’s results

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