until he finally fell back with two kilometers to go, and Japan’s Norihito
Kobayashi assumed temporary control. But that proved fleeting, as well.
“For Todd to take the lead like that until the last couple of laps — that
allowed Johnny to sit in,” Demong said.
Spillane was glad to have another rest from Kobayahsi and made his
move with little more than a kilometer to go, creating a quick break of
10 to 15 meters.
“I tried to make a break,” said Spillane. “This is the Olympics, so you
have to go as hard as you can. We were lucky because some of the other
guys took some pulls. I was able to feel pretty strong starting the last lap,
had decent gap going into last hill before finish. As I got further up the
hill, I started to go a little bit over too far into the red zone and was pretty
tired when we came into the stadium and into the sprint, but overall very
satisfied with today.”
After recovering from injuries in five out of the last six seasons, Spillane
said knee surgeries last fall mandated the complete rest he needed to
return to top shape. Perhaps some of the rest was helpful.
“It was very difficult for a long time because I kept having really good
results but it was very sporadic,” he said. “I was wasting so much energy
on recovering from injuries. Instead of trying to get better at nordic com-
bined, I was just trying to get healthy.”
Although the changing conditions weren’t as kind to Demong as they
were to Lodwick and Spillane (fourth despite struggles earlier in training)
on the jump, he never lost sight of the team’s goal and plowed through
the cross country field in the afternoon. “I just said game on, and put my
head down,” Demong said. “I wasn’t even really that disappointed. I felt
like I had the same jump I’ve been having. Conditions were a little back
and forth. There were a few of us who felt we didn’t really get the score
that we deserved, but it’s hard to be disappointed when do your best.”
Demong headed back to Park City for a few days’ break at his home
Spillane said Sunday’s thrilling conclusion isn’t out of the ordinary for
nordic combined, and expressed his wish that more people will get ex-
cited about the sport in the United States. “Hopefully, this will put nordic
combined a little bit more on the map,” he said. “It’s been good to see
more and more people know about the sport.”
Brett Camerota of Park City also had a strong first-round jump for the
U.S. and sat in 10th before ending in 36th in cross country.
Most American fans predict the next medal won’t be long in coming.
— with reports from the U.S. Ski Team