Spillane wins first World Cup | SteamboatToday.com

Spillane wins first World Cup

Steamboat skier wins Nordic combined World Cup event

— In Steamboat Springs, Johnny Spillane's friends and family hunkered over flickering computer screens on an otherwise dark and cold Routt County morning early Sunday, waiting with tired eyes and clenched fists for any update.

In Oberhof, Germany, Spillane himself ensured any drama would only be time-lapse related. He dominated the Sunday competition at a Nordic combined event, climbing to the top of a World Cup podium for the first time in his 130 circuit starts.

"The race was this morning at about 4:45 a.m., so we were all at our own house calling each other and screaming," Spillane's wife, Hilary, said.

Even watching from thousands of miles away, Spillane's dominance Sunday was obvious. His lead in the cross-country ski section of the competition stretched to nearly a minute in parts and by the end of the 10-kilometer skiing section was a comfortable 30 seconds.

He finished ahead of second-place Felix Gottwald, of Austria, and third-place Bjoern Kircheisen, of Germany, who was 39 seconds back in the final results.

"I'm really excited. It was good jumping and good racing. I know when I can put the two together I can do well," Spillane said in a U.S. Ski Team release. "I just went for it today, and fortunately, it felt good and it worked out."

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The race was Spillane's second strong start of the weekend. He was fourth in a Saturday competition, narrowly missing a podium spot after losing a late rush to the finish line.

The results were more than a good couple of days for Spillane, however. They're evidence of a hot streak that at least matches, and perhaps tops, any other in the competitor's decade of World Cup skiing.

Spillane earned three podiums and was in the top 10 of six consecutive World Cup events in 2002. He won a World Championship in 2003, then was in the top 10 in five of seven races between 2004 and 2005.

His win Sunday capped a streak dating back to Dec. 5, in which he's only finished outside the top 10 once in seven races, and even then he managed 13th place.

Also in that span was a victory at the 2010 U.S. Winter Olympic Team Trials in Steamboat Springs, which ensured what seemed to be an already extremely likely spot in next month's Vancouver Olympics.

All of the success came after an injury-plagued summer.

"It's been nice to just be consistent. That's one of the big problems I've had over the last few years is I'd have really good weeks and really bad weeks," Spillane said in the press release. "My body feels so much better that it's easier for me to do what I want to do on the jump hill and put myself in a better start position in every race. If you give yourself enough chances, it's bound to work out eventually."

Elsewhere, Billy Demong finished 13th. Brett Camerota was 31st, Taylor Fletcher 32nd and Alex Miller 43rd.

From Oberhof, the Nordic combined team heads to Val di Fiemme, Italy, the same course where Spillane won his World Championship in 2003.

"It's good to know that I can do what I did today, but at the same time, we have another event next weekend," Spillane said. "So I'm going to take a couple days to recover and continue to move forward."

World Cup results

Oberhof, Germany

1. Johnny Spillane, United States, 28 minutes, 13.3 seconds (2-3).

2. Felix Gottwald, Austria, 30.8 second behind (15-1).

3. Bjoern Kircheisen, Germany, 39.1 (12-2).

4. Jason Lamy Chappuis, France, 41.6 (6-8).

5. Eric Frenzel, Germany, 43.3 (5-14).

6. Pavel Churavy, Czech Republic, 44.3 (10-4).

7. Mario Stecher, Austria, 58.2 (14-5).

8. David Kreiner, Austria, 1:03.2 (11-6).

9. Bernhard Gruber, Austria, 1:05.9 (8-11).

10. Christoph Bieler, Austria, 1:06.9 (9-11).

11. Janne Ryynaenen, Finland, 1:19.8 (1-23).

12. Tino Edelmann, Germany, 1:33.0 (7-21).

13. Bill Demong, United States, 1:33.1 (13-18).

14. Alessandro Pittin, Italy, 1:38.9 (18-10).

15. Miroslav Dvorak, Czech Republic, 1:39.4 (19-7).


31. Brett Camerota, United States, 4:55.6 (30-34).

32. Taylor Fletcher, United States, 5:13.4 (47-9).

43. Alex Miller, United States, 8:05.9 (52-35).

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