Bill Demong

Bill Demong to run New York City Marathon

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Bill Demong, the only American to win an Olympic Nordic combined gold medal, will test his endurance at the New York City Marathon on Nov. 2.

“Intermittently, over the last however many, 15 years, I have had the desire and done some running races,” Demong said in a phone interview while driving in rural Germany on Monday. “I’ve kind of had a desire to do a marathon, especially while I’m relatively fit.”

Demong, 34, won gold and silver medals at the Vancouver 2010 Olympics. He came back for a fifth Olympics in Sochi, and placed sixth with the U.S. team and 24th and 31st in individual events.

It was reported in Sochi that Demong would probably retire after those Winter Games, but he will partially compete this season, hoping to help the U.S. Nordic combined team regain funding following U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association cuts after Sochi.

Demong hopes to average six minutes per mile at the New York City Marathon, with a finishing time around 2 hours, 36 minutes. He said in 2003 he ran a 37km Colorado road race (three miles shy of a marathon) over a mountain in 2 hours, 17 minutes, but said he was in better running shape then.

Demong’s work ethic is well-known among U.S. Winter Olympians.

“He will wake up at four in the morning, go hike up some insane mountain with his cross-country skis, find a field and go trudging around cross-country,” ski jumper Anders Johnson once said. “Then he’ll come back down for breakfast, go do intervals on his bike for two hours, come home and eat lunch. … Then he’ll go and do a bike race. … I don’t think the guy has taken a day off since he was 13.”

Demong’s experience in cross-country skiing endurance training for Nordic combined should pay off in New York. He pointed to other cross-country skiers who performed well in distance running, such as former Dartmouth skier Ben True. True was the second-fastest U.S. man in the 5000m this year.

“Certainly having that cardiovascular base helps immensely, already knowing that given a few training sessions you can easily go out and probably run a marathon,” said Demong, whose summer roller-ski training over the last two decades included three-, four- and five-hour sessions at 10 mph. “The catch is, of course, that just because you could finish one doesn’t necessarily make you, a) fast — not all cross-country skiers cross over well into running — and b) in cross-country skiing, you’re used to going out, uphill, as hard as you can and then recovering. Obviously, in a marathon if you go and burn it in the first three miles, you’re not coming back. That’s going to be the challenge.”

Demong will join a long list of Olympians to take part in the five-borough race.

It includes his U.S. Winter Olympic teammate Apolo Ohno, who clocked 3:25:14 in 2011. Ohno recently completed the Ironman World Championships in Hawaii.

Outside of Olympic distance runners, Olympic champions swimmer Summer Sanders and sprinter Marie-Jose Perec also ran the NYC Marathon in 2013.

Caroline Wozniacki, a two-time Olympic tennis player, will also run this year’s NYC Marathon.

Olympic triathlete Gwen Jorgensen, the reigning World champion, will race the Dash to the Finish Line 5k in Central Park the day before the marathon.

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Sam Girard, Olympic short track champion, surprisingly retires at age 22

Sam Girard
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Sam Girard, who avoided a three-skater pileup to win the PyeongChang Olympic 1000m, retired from short track speed skating at age 22, saying he lost the desire to compete.

“I leave my sport satisfied with what I have accomplished,” Girard said in a press release. “This decision was very well thought through. I am at peace with the choice that I’ve made and am ready to move onto the next step.”

Girard and girlfriend and fellow Olympic skater Kasandra Bradette announced their careers end together in a tearful French-language press conference in Quebec on Friday.

Girard detailed the decision in a letter, the sacrifices made to pursue skating. Notably, moving from his hometown of Ferland-et-Boilleau, population 600, to Montreal in 2012. His hobbies had been of the outdoor variety, but he now had to drive an hour and a half from the training center just to go fishing.

In PyeongChang, Girard led for most of the 1000m final, which meant he avoided chaos behind him on the penultimate lap of the nine-lap race. Hungarian Liu Shaolin Sandor‘s inside pass took out South Koreans Lim Hyo-Jun and Seo Yi-Ra, leaving just Girard and American John-Henry Krueger.

Girard maintained his lead, crossing .214 in front of Krueger to claim the title. He also finished fourth in the 500m and 1500m and earned bronze in the relay.

“My first Olympics, won a gold medal, can’t ask for more,” he said afterward.

Though Girard was already accomplished — earning individual silver medals at the 2016 and 2017 Worlds — he came to PyeongChang as the heir apparent to Charles Hamelin, a roommate on the World Cup circuit whom Girard likened to a big brother. Girard earned another world silver medal this past season.

Hamelin, after taking individual gold in 2010 and 2014, left PyeongChang without an individual medal in what many expected to be his last Olympics. However, he went back on a retirement vow and continued to skate through the 2018-19 season.

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MORE: J.R. Celski explains decision to retire

Maia, Alex Shibutani extend break from ice dance competition

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Brother-sister ice dance duo Maia and Alex Shibutani will not compete next season, the Olympic bronze medalists announced via U.S. Figure Skating on Friday.

“We’re healthier and stronger than we were after the Olympics, and we’re continuing to push ourselves,” Maia Shibutani said in a press release.

“We’ve continued to skate a lot, and we feel like we’ve benefited from some time away to create in different environments and focus on experiences that can help us grow,” Alex said.

The “Shib Sibs” won the U.S. title in 2016 and 2017. They won their first world medal in 2011 (bronze) before reaching the world podium again in 2016 and 2017 with silver and bronze, respectively.

They most recently competed at the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics, where they earned bronze both individually and in the team event.

Maia and Alex Shibutani are now the second ice dance medalists from PyeongChang to announce they’ll sit out at least part of next season. Gold medalists Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir of Canada will tour instead this fall and are not expected to return to competition.

The siblings haven’t stayed away from the ice entirely in their break from the sport, though — they’ve also been touring and performing in shows.

The Shibutanis became the second set of siblings to earn Olympic ice dance medals after France’s Isabelle and Paul Duchesnay in 1992.

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