Jason Lamy-Chappuis takes the Nordic combined gold
Born in the USA, Jason Lamy-Chappuis prepared for Vancouver 2010 alongside American athletes, but there was no questioning his allegiances. The Nordic combined star was French to the core, having grown up in France and honed his estimable sporting talents there.
In Turin four years earlier, he had performed particularly well in the team and sprint events, just missing out on the podium in both. When Vancouver came around, however, he played his part in one of the most exciting finales of the Games.
Lamy-Chappuis entered three events, though his strongest was the 10km normal hill. He placed fifth in the jumping phase, which meant he would start the 10km 46 seconds behind the leader, Finland’s Janne Ryynänen.
However, the Finn was a jumper who skied, rather than an all-rounder, and few expected him to make the podium, even allowing for his head-start over the field. Instead, the overall title became a battle between Italy’s Alessandro Pittin, American Johnny Spillane and, of course, Lamy-Chappuis.
Initially there were two other Americans in the leading pack, with the rampaging Todd Lodwick and Bill Demong hitting the front. But as the finish line loomed, the race became a three-way affair.
Spillane looked the favourite. He held the lead as the athletes entered the stadium, but reckoned without Lamy-Chappuis producing a brilliant charge, while Pittin also put in a determined bid for gold. A gruelling race would end in a stunning three-way sprint finish, with less than a second between the protagonists, Pittin ending with bronze, Spillane taking silver and Lamy-Chappuis emerging the winner, looking as surprised by the result as anyone.