Let’s face it: at best, nordic combined — where athletes race cross-country after jumping — is not on most Americans’ radar. When Johnny Spillane won the U.S.’s first World Championship gold in 2003, it didn’t elicit a yawn outside the nordic ski community. But when the U.S. broke through for four nordic combined medals in the 2010 Winter Olympics, it got people’s attention.
In Vancouver, Vermontville NY native Bill Demong skied to gold in the large hill/10 km event and anchored the U.S. to silver in the team event. Johnny Spillane, now retired, had two individual silver medals in that Olympics and shared team event silver.