US Nordic Combined Ski Team returns to Vancouver | SteamboatToday.com

US Nordic Combined Ski Team returns to Vancouver

Skiers say they appreciate the training period in Utah

Olympic silver medalist Johnny Spillane heads out onto the cross-country course during training Saturday. Spillane and his teammates on the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team just returned to British Columbia after spending most of last week training in Park City, Utah.

— It was back to work for the members of the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team on Saturday.

The team returned to Whistler Olympic Park in British Colum­­­­­­bia to begin preparing for Tuesday's Nordic combined team event and Thursday's large hill individual Gundersen. The team did not take part in jump training on its first day back but did some interval training on the cross-country course and tested skis.

"It was good to get away and relax a little bit," Olympic silver medalist Johnny Spillane said about trading a few days in Whistler for a few days closer to home in Park City, Utah. "We were able to refocus on this next week. It's going to be pretty busy, but it's going to be good."

Spillane's teammate Billy Demong said that getting away has been a part of the team plan since the beginning and that it was a good way to take advantage of the break in the schedule. He was sixth in the opening Nordic combined event Feb. 14.

"We had a really good week," Demong said. "Turned out to be a great thing for us just to be able to go back home. … Being away from things was probably good for Johnny and for us. It was awesome. We were able to get in a little backcountry skiing and little ski jumping on our own time, and the best part was no bibs."

Demong said watching Spi­llane win the silver medal last week was a special moment for the whole team.

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"Our big goal was for somebody to get a medal, more than any one person," Demong said.

Demong said he could have been disappointed after the jumping, but seeing teammates Todd Lodwick, who was second after the jumping, and Spillane, fourth after the jumping, up on the leader board made it difficult to stay down. He said it was great that he could recover in the cross-country race to finish sixth, but said watching Spillane race to silver was the highlight for the entire team.

"We live by the team," Demong said. "Both Todd and I were incredibly happy for Johnny, but also incredibly relieved for our team that we were able to deliver."

Demong and Spillane said getting back to Utah and away from the Olympics has given the team a chance to focus its efforts, and both skiers are excited and ready for this busy week at Whistler Olympic Park. The team event will take place Tuesday. The final Nordic combined event of the Olympics, the large hill individual Gundersen, will take place Thursday.

Brett Camerota, who jumped well the first few days of the Olympics, hopes to pick up where he left off. He hopes to fill the No. 4 spot in the team event.

"This is a chance to come back in fresh," Camerota said about the break. "So far, there hasn't been a lot of pressure. I'm just trying to go out and have some fun. We will see what happens."

Camerota and teammate Tay­lor Fletcher could be the key to the team's success in Tuesday's team event. One of the two will round out the four-person team with Demong, Lodwick and Spillane. However, the skiers said their teammates are not looking for them to do something supernatural. They simply want them to go out and have a good race. 

"There is no question that Todd and I are excited to give it another shot," Demong said.  "We not only want to get one as a team, but it would also be nice to get one of our own."

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