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Vancouver Olympics: Johnny Spillane Ends U.S. Drought in Nordic Combined

Hard work has finally paid off for the U.S. nordic combined team. Johnny Spillane ended the Americans’ dry spell in the event by capturing the silver medal, just 0.4 seconds behind winner Jason Lamy Chappuis of France. The U.S. had not won a medal in the event since it started joining the Winter Olympics 86 years ago.

Spillane credited his medal-clinching performance to a U.S. sports program that began in the 90’s. The program includes camping athletes in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, where they train at least 300 days a year. Spillane, Todd Lodwick, and Bill Demong, who all finished in the top six, are among the first signees of the program aimed at bringing glory to the nordic combined team.

Spillane was still leading with 150 yards to go, but a last-gasp burst of speed from Lamy Chappuis ended the American’s gold medal hopes. Despite the close loss, Spillane was far from being disappointed. “I’m just thrilled… This took a lot of hard work,” he said.

The nordic combined consists of a ski jumping competition in the morning followed by a cross-country race in the afternoon.