Johnny Spillane: Supporting Scott

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The time has come for us to give back to someone who has contributed so much to this community. As many of you know, Scott Blair has been diagnosed with a brain tumor. Scott has helped so many people in this community, including myself, and it is time for us to repay him by opening our hearts, and our wallets, to help a friend.

I want to let everyone know how much Scott helped me during my career. In 2001, before the World Championships in Lahti, Finland, I suffered a high ankle sprain while training. I spent the next few days working with Scott to figure out how to shove my foot into a ski jumping boot and tape it in a way that would enable me to perform. That year, I placed 13th, which was the best performance by any American Nordic skier.

Fast forward to 2003. It was January, and I crashed while ski jumping in Austria, tearing the labrum in my shoulder. I was trying to figure out how to continue the season, so I called Scott and put him to work. He helped me every day for the next two months, and later that year I won the first World Championships by any U.S. Nordic athlete. Without Scott, that would not have been possible.

In 2005, I tore my L5/S1 disc during the World Championships in Oberstdorf, Germany. Scott was with me and spent 12 hours a day helping me “survive.” In November 2005, I was jumping in Kuusamo, Finland, one of the toughest and most terrifying jumps in the world, and I had a bad crash. Once again, Scott was there and escorted me to the hospital (along with two other jumpers — it was a full ambulance!). I tore my AC joint severely and had to miss the next couple of months, but with Scott’s help I was able to return to skiing and compete in the 2006 Olympic Games. I did not perform to the level I hoped, but there is no way I would have been there without Scott’s help.

In 2007, I broke my coracoid process during a warmup for the World Championships in Sapporo. It broke because of a weakened bone from a previous surgery (Scott was my PT), and that is the only time Scott was wrong with a diagnosis. He helped me compete with a broken bone in my shoulder.

In 2009, right before the Olympics, I tore my meniscus during a training jump. I had two surgeries that fall. Meniscus surgery recovery is very straightforward, but it’s less straightforward when you’re staring at the Olympic Games. Scott was not just a physiotherapist but also a psychotherapist during that time. There is no way I would have won three Olympic medals without his help. Scott deserves an Olympic medal for the effort he gave helping me recover.

There are more injuries than I care to list that Scott helped me with. Needless to say, I owe him one. And now I have the opportunity to give back to someone who has given so much to me and so much to this community. I urge you all to visit www.mylifeline.org/scottblair and give Scott encouragement to fight. This is going to be a trying time for the Blair family, and the least we can do is give them our heartfelt support. I will be going to Alpine Bank and donating to the Scott Blair Benefit Fund to help with the tremendous financial obligations the family will have, and I encourage all of you to do the same.

Johnny Spillane

Steamboat Springs

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