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Olympics: Why you should root for Billy Demong in Nordic Combined

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Billy Demong
Lars Baron/Getty Images

Billy Demong is a five-time Olympian who became the first American athlete to win gold in Nordic Combined in Vancouver. So when he tells you that his sport is good TV, you listen. It combines ski jumping and cross-country skiing. “The guy who wins the jumping starts first, and then depending on how much shorter you jump, you start a time deficit back [for the skiing],” he says. Then, it’s all about the chase: “It’s watching people get caught or try to catch up.” The individual event that combines one jump on the normal hill and a 10-km cross-country race is set for Feb. 12; the long hill jump and 10-km race, which is the discipline Demong won in 2010, is scheduled for Feb. 18; and the team event, which features four athletes per country on the long hill and in a 4×5 km relay happens Feb. 20.

Why you might want to root for Demong: You know from a certain commercial that he listens to hip-hop in the gym and classical when he’s skiing, but did you know that he marathons TV shows like the rest of us? “I’ll pick a show and watch an episode or two a day for a couple of months,” Demong told EW at an event last October. At that time, he was marathoning Breaking Bad. The team in general, he said, was into USA’s Suits and White Collar. (They all like to bring seasons of different TV shows when they travel.) He was planning on saving Dexter Season 8 for the trip to Russia.