Hilary and Johnny Spillane at home with their new daughter, Hadley Ann Spillane.

Photo by John F. Russell

Hilary and Johnny Spillane at home with their new daughter, Hadley Ann Spillane.

Knee injury allows Johnny Spillane to be a full-time dad

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— Let’s just say 2010 was a big year for Johnny Spillane.

In February, the Steam­boat Springs native and U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team star earned three silver medals at the Winter Olympics. His first silver represented the first time an American had medaled in the tradition-rich sport of Nordic combined.

But long before Spillane competed in Whistler, British Columbia, the 30-year-old realized there is more to life than Olympic glory.

“I think that Johnny had an epiphany before he got to the Olympics,” his mom, Nancy, said. “Hilary was expecting, and I think that he realized that there were more important things in life.”

While Johnny’s three medals were historic for the U.S. Nordic combined program, the arrival of 5-pound, 9-ounce Hadley Ann Spillane at 3:59 a.m. Aug. 15, 2010, made a bigger impact on his life.

It didn’t take long for the man who was the star attraction at local schools and the subject of parades to realize he was no longer the star in his own home. That title belongs to Hadley, and Johnny wouldn’t have it any other way.

It’s in the family’s small one-bedroom cabin a few minutes outside of Milner that Johnny is adjusting to life as a dad.

The ranch — where Nancy and her husband, Jim, live — had been owned by Routt County legend Perley Green, but nobody had lived in the cabin down the road from the main house for 30 or 40 years.

“We believe that the cabin is the original homestead,” Nancy said. “The living room is the original cabin. When we tore out the old drywall in the first addition, we found underwear, balls of foil and newspapers from 1906 that were used to insulate the cabin. So even the addition is 100 years old.”

Johnny and Jim cleaned years of junk from the cabin that had been serving as a storage unit.

They finished most of the major renovations before Hadley’s arrival, but Johnny acknowledges there is still work to be done. What won’t change is the rustic feel and historic nature of the old building. Johnny and Hilary say it’s perfect for them and their baby.

Johnny will spend the first part of this season’s Word Cup tour at home recovering from a knee injury. He expected to get back on snow in December and then ease back into World Cup competition in January before competing in the World Championships in March.

While many athletes would view the injury as a setback, Johnny and his family think it’s a blessing in disguise.

If not for the injury, Johnny would have been in Germany when Hadley was born, and his recovery period has allowed him to stay home and bond with his daughter. It also has given him time to pursue his other love: fly fishing. It’s a hobby that, with the help of a baby sling, he shares with Hadley.

“It’s been fun watching the baby grow and watching Johnny grow in his role as a dad,” Nancy said.

He knows tougher times lie ahead, once he returns to the World Cup circuit and its long European trips.

“It’s going to be hard, especially on Hilary,” Johnny said. “It’s also going to be hard to leave Hadley for a trip. I’m sure I’m going to be homesick.”

But for the time being, Johnny, Hilary and Hadley are enjoying life on the Spillane ranch and treasuring every moment together.

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