Gold medal sends Demong on bended knee

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By David Ljunggren

WHISTLER (Reuters) - Hours after winning a gold medal in a Nordic Combined event at the Vancouver Olympics, U.S. athlete Bill Demong had something else golden in mind -- a wedding ring.

Demong intended to propose to long-time girlfriend Katie Koczynski and had been carrying an engagement ring around with him for months, the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association said in a statement on Friday.

Demong eventually decided to pop the question following Thursday's individual hill competition.

"A little part of me really wanted to win to make it that much better," the statement quoted Demong as saying.

There was a slight hiccup.

"An old gymnastics injury on her ring finger made it tough, but (Demong) teammate Todd Lodwick stepped in to help squeeze the ring onto her finger," the statement said.

Even more good news was to come. Demong, will be the U.S. flag bearer in Sunday's closing ceremony.

His gold was the first for the United States in an Olympic Nordic Combined event, which features a ski jump and a 10 km cross country race. Demong won a silver in the team event.

(Editing by Frank Pingue)