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.
Go the extra mile.
While the U.S. Nordic Combined team has placed a premium on sports sciences, it has gone decidedly old school in its training regimen. And that's due to its old-timey conviction that the guy who puts in the longest hours will necessarily be the fastest. So while the majority of Nordic combined athletes train at the distances in which they compete, Demong and the U.S. Team go way above and beyond that.
"Flat out, I think most Nordic Combined skiers think 'Okay, well, we do 10K races, so there's only really a need to ski two hours in a session,'" Demong says. "While we know that it doesn't matter if you're an 800-meter or a marathon runner, you still need long, long sessions down to depletion in order to train your body to handle increased workloads. You have to train your engine to be bigger." The results speak for themselves – something Team USA can be grateful for when it's been skiing for the third hour straight.
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