Steamboat Springs, town of champions
Johnny Spillane grew up in this small-town ski resort with fewer than 10,000 inhabitants, in the heart of Colorado. At the Vancouver Games, two other citizens of this town were members of the American Nordic combined team: Todd Lodwick and Taylor Fletcher. Perhaps, when they arrived in Vancouver, they spared a thought for Nelson Carmichael, another native of Steamboat Springs, who won a bronze medal at the Albertville Games in 1992.
Third time lucky
In 2010, Johnny participated in his third Olympic Games. At the two previous editions, his best result was a 10th place. For this 2003 world sprint champion, it was written that these Games would see him reap all the rewards; he finally won three silver medals. It was also at these Games that he made history as the first American to win an Olympic medal in Nordic combined, thanks to the silver he won in the individual competition on the normal jump, narrowly missing out on gold. In fourth place after the ski jump, Johnny ended up beaten in the sprint by Frenchman Lamy Chappuis in the cross country race.
The medal of a group of friends
A few days later, motivated by this first medal, alongside his fellow townsman Lodwick, and his friends Bill Demong and Brett Camerotta, Johnny finished second in the team event, beaten by only five seconds by the Austrians. They were silver medallists and, above all, very happy with these laurels crowning the friendship of this group of pals who lived, fished and hunted together. This Olympic medal allowed them to forget the disappointment of a number lost during a race, which had deprived them of a world title the previous year.
For the last competition in Vancouver, Spillane set out in second position, after placing second in the jump heat. He managed to catch up with the competitor ahead of him. But a fall in the last round prevented him from racing in the sprint against his training partner Bill Demong, who ended up overtaking him to win gold. Three races, three medals, all silver, but, above all, the shared happiness of teammates who had become friends.