Whistler, British Columbia It’s easy for Brett Camerota to get lost in the big picture.
He was the youngest member of the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team to compete in Tuesday’s Nordic combined team event.
He’s surrounded by the mountains in the sport, among three world champions in Todd Lodwick, Johnny Spillane and Billy Demong.
But it was tough to tell Tuesday.
Camerota scored 122.3 in his early morning jump, good enough for third in his group. He led off for the Americans in the relay event and turned a two-second deficit into a 2.6-second lead at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
“These guys are world champions and everything,” Camerota said, almost awestruck. “They’re just that good. It definitely happens because they all have World Championship medals. It’s awesome to be on the same team with them.”
But where the Americans struggled in the previous two games to find a fourth skier who could keep up, Camerota proved more than anything that he belonged.
His jumps were consistent with the other three Americans, and he’d spent the better part of the past two months working on his 5-kilometer race in preparation for the team event.
He focused on short intervals and going all out for 5 kilometers. In essence, he knew he wasn’t going to win an individual medal, so instead he completely focused on the team.
“Brett did great,” Steamboat’s Spillane said Tuesday. “He jumped awesome today. His race was good. It’s a lot of pressure to start first. We were hoping he could keep us in there, and he did. Just a great job by Brett.”
Camerota admitted that he was nervous before the cross-country event. But his nerves didn’t seem to affect him much. He started behind Finland’s Janne Ryynaenen by two seconds but made those up in the last kilometer.
When he finished his leg, Camerota said, he strongly felt there would be a medal. He said he wanted to hide but was glad he watched. Camerota did more than watch, however; he was a big part of why the U.S. skiers were silver medalists.
“The fourth guy has big shoes to fill,” Camerota said. “You have a lot of pressure on you. When it all works out, it’s great. For me my first Olympics, I didn’t have the experience. But being on this team was the big goal. It was my main goal.”
Watch the U.S. Nordic combined team, including Steamboat Springs' own Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane, collect their silver medals Tuesday night in Vancouver during the medal ceremony.