LILLEHAMMER, Norway – It was a great end to a weekend of competing for Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO) who went two-for-two leading the U.S., breaking a tie for fourth by winning a photo finish Sunday as the nordic combined World Cup wrapped up in Lillehammer. It was Spillane’s best result since finishing second in Kuusamo in 2007.
“It was great to have a good weekend,” Spillane said. “I felt like I skied a pretty good race, I just got beat at the end when I was tired. But, I was definitely satisfied with both jumping and cross country.”
Germany’s Tino Edelmann won the competition for his first World Cup victory, followed by Anssi Koivuranta of Finland in second, and Jason Lamy Chappuis of France in third.
With a successful jump, Spillane started things out in the lead pack and fought his way along, taking the lead in two splits before falling to third at the 9K mark, and then eventually to fourth.
“It was a pretty good race. The start of it was slow, and had a whole bunch of people together. So, I went to the front to try to break it up a little bit,” Spillane said.
“On the last hill and last lap, Johnny was doing everything he could to drive the train,” Nordic Combined Head Coach Dave Jarrett added.
For Spillane, the early-season success is something of a welcome surprise.
“I didn’t really come into it with any expectations after the summer. I felt pretty good about where I was, but I wasn’t going to get bent out of shape if things didn’t go well,” Spillane said.
“He’s definitely surpassing where we as a staff expected him to start, but we knew he was always capable of being right here,” Jarrett added. “It’s a credit to him knowing deep down that he’s also capable of that. Hopefully we can continue on this path.”
Following Spillane for the U.S. was World Champion Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) who finished eighth.
“It was a good start for Bill. With a fourth and eighth, you can’t really complain about a day like that,” Jarrett said. “Bill and Johnny each had a good competition today. Johnny was leading the race at several points during the competition and Bill was right in there for the lead group.”
What was to be the next nordic combined World Cup in the Czech Republic was canceled but officials are now trying to hold a single competition on Dec. 16. A decision will be made this Wednesay.
“I’m just going to keep doing the same thing and working hard,” Spillane said. “I feel like I can make some more steps in cross country, same with my jumping, and I’m going to just keep moving forward to Vancouver.”