Billy Demong, America's first-ever gold medal winner in the Nordic Combined, the Olympic event combining cross-country skiing and ski jumping, is looking to repeat in Sochi. We asked Demong to share his training secrets – how to gauge the perfect intensity level for every workout, why time off is essential, how to lift weights for endurance – and explain how amateur winter athletes can learn from his success.
Change your training.
Before Demong and the rest of Team USA finally broke through the glass ceiling of Nordic Combined and dominated the podium in Vancouver, they (and American athletes before them) had spent decades trying to catch up to the Europeans, who had basically colonized the podium. The strategy had always been to parrot Nordic training regimens. It wasn't until the American team broke out and tried something new that they actually found results. Demong explains that a creative training plan centered on cross-training emerged as the winning formula that maximized his and his teammates' abilities and transformed the team from an afterthought to a viable global power.
"For us, it was a question of what can we do to make us better from a scientific standpoint? What can we do that other sports have discovered works for them?" Demong says. "We've integrated a lot of different ideas, and we haven't been afraid to try new things or throw out old things."
Credit: Shaun Botterill / Getty Images