U.S. Nordic Combined makes Olympic history again, winning a silver medal in the team competition.
Coming into the Vancouver games, the U.S. had never won an Olympic Nordic combined medal in 86 years of competition. But now, they’ve got two: first Johnny Spillane took silver in the Individual Normal Hill/10km Cross-Country pursuit. And now, Spillane along with Brett Camerota, Todd Lodwick and Billy Demong won silver in the Team/4×5 km relay at Whistler Olympic Park. Austria won gold; Germany took bronze.
“We’ve been dreaming about this day for four years,” said Lodwick of Steamboat Springs, Colo., who came out of retirement “to get some hardware.”
“This is the greatest moment in nordic combined history for the USA,” he said. “All three of us are psyched to be here. We’re psyched to be here as a team. We’ve persevered over the last 10 years to get to this point. We feel like we’ve earned this silver medal and this spot in history.”
Theirs is a Cinderella story of a long and hard road from a young team with no funding, to serious medal contenders with the support of the U.S. Ski and Snowboard Association. Lodwick is competing in his fifth Olympic games, while Spillane and Demong are competing in their fourth.
“It’s taken us a long, long time to get where we are today,” said Spillane of Steamboat Springs, Colo.
Spillane missed out on gold last week by four tenths of a second, the closest finish in Nordic combined history. In the team event, the U.S. missed it by 5.2 seconds.
“It was a good race by everybody,” Spillane said. “As much as it’s hard to not win, because we definitely wanted to win, I think everybody can be satisfied because we gave 100 percent effort.”
The team will jump and race in the Individual Large Hill/10km competition, the third and final Nordic combined event, on Thursday.
“I feel good,” said Billy Demong of Vermontville, N.Y. “If I can put down a good jump, I feel like I could be in there for an individual medal on Thursday as well.”
With two silvers in two events, perhaps the third time will be the charm for Team USA gold.
For more on Spillane’s individual medal, read here.
This post first appeared in the Washington Times Communities on Feb. 23, 2010.