Bad back sidelines Spillane

Steamboat athlete out of Worlds

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Steamboat Springs Nordic combined athlete Johnny Spillane won't be able to defend his World Championship at the sprint distance today after further injuring his already ailing back during training Saturday.

Spillane sent an e-mail from Germany on Saturday afternoon letting people know he would not be able to compete. Spillane originally hurt his back before the World Championships began, and the injury prevented him from competing in the first individual event Feb. 18 in Oberstdorf, Germany.

Despite minimal training leading up to Wednesday's team event, Spillane jumped and raced. In an e-mail he sent Thursday, Spillane said he didn't experience much pain during the cross-country ski portion of the relay, but fatigue factored in, considering he was the anchor leg and was racing some of the world's top Nordic combined athletes.

At that time, he planned to compete today.

Now, doctors want him to stop.

"Unfortunately, this is going to be the end of the season for me," Spillane wrote Saturday. "The doctors don't want me to do anything until I can get home and have an MRI and get some definite answers on the injury."

When doctors determine the nature of the injury, Spillane will know whether he needs surgery or just time off.

"This has been a very frustrating few weeks for me," he wrote. "I was skiing well coming in the championships and looking forward to competing, but this is the way things go. Now it is time to look forward and start preparing for summer training and the Olympic year."

The 2006 Olympics will be in Italy.

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