Old man and the skis: Spillane adjusting to life after Nordic combined
January 5, 2014
Sometimes it's milk and sometimes it's bread, but it's always a call Hilary Spillane can make now.
After a long day of work and the grocery list is missing that one thing, Hilary doesn't have to load the children up, hop back in the car and make the drive.
Husband Johnny now is a phone call away.
"It's a little different," Hilary said. "Any little thing you need you can stop and think about it and he's here to help you."
Johnny Spillane announced his retirement from the sport mid-April after arguably the most decorated U.S. Nordic combined career.
The World Champion and three-time Olympic silver medalist was the first American to win a World Championship in 2003 and followed it up by becoming the first American to win an Olympic medal in Vancouver.
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"I can say with 100 percent honesty, I don't miss it at all," Spillane said.
Following the 2010 games in Vancouver, Spillane was at a crossroads. He could keep going and compete in another games or he could try and find what was next.
With two daughters, 3-year-old Hadley and 19-month-old Genevieve, Spillane said the decision kept swaying toward his family.
Post Vancouver, the jumping portion of Nordic combined drastically affected Spillane, and he struggled to gain traction on the World Cup circuit.
"It was getting harder and harder and harder every year after the Olympics," he said. "I had to either relearn everything about ski jumping or be satisfied where I was at."
The decision was easy. With Hilary owning Spillane Creative, a photography company in town, and the two children sprouting up, Spillane said the decision was 100 percent based on being with his family.
Hilary used to wait until the children went to sleep to focus on her business. Now she is able to contribute three days per week and has seen it begin to take off.
"I think I've gotten busier," she said. "I've been able to put more into my business, as far as I can take on more jobs and pursue it more."
Johnny also is transitioning to the next part of his life.
In December, Johnny purchased Steamboat Flyfisher. It's kept him incredibly busy the past few weeks, with a recent trip to a consumer show in Denver highlighting one of the first steps.
"Fly-fishing is my passion outside of skiing," he said. "It's on par with skiing. I was not going to do something I didn't like. The opportunity came up and I like the challenge of it. I think there are comparisons of being a pro skier and athlete and businessman."
Spillane has, however, been paying attention. He communicates with Olympic gold medalist Billy Demong almost daily and thinks the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team is in a good position entering the 2014 Olympic Games.
He said it hasn't been weird not competing and instead watching the events online or on TV. He said the family has been so busy it hasn't totally set in.
With the businesses and chasing two daughters around, the Spillanes may be busier than ever.
Genevieve in particular has shown acumen for climbing over everything.
Chasing her, Johnny said, is more challenging and rewarding than any World Cup event.
"Oh the girls are more challenging for sure," he said. "They require a lot of energy. Especially the younger one. She's a monster, in a good way."