Johnny Spillane take his place in Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame
Broomfield — World championships and winning three silver medals at the 2010 Winter Olympic Games cemented Steamboat Springs Nordic combined skier Johnny Spillane’s place in Colorado skiing history.
On Friday night, the Colorado Ski and Snowboard Hall of Fame recognized Spillane’s amazing career by inducting him with the Class of 2014.
“It’s fun to be recognized for all the hard work you put in,” Spillane said. “It’s nice to be appreciated for something you did for the sport of skiing.”
But as he stood at the podium at the front of a room packed with top athletes, skiing legends and the men and woman who have made skiing in Colorado what it is today, Spillane couldn’t help but share the spotlight.
He thanked his former coaches including Tom Steitz, Bard Elden, Chris Gilbertson, Dave Jarrett, Gary Crawford and Todd Wilson. He thanked his former teammates and also took a moment to recognize his mom and dad, his family and, of course, his wife, Hilary, who all supported his efforts.
“I’m psyched for him,” former teammate and current U.S. Nordic combined skier Bill Demong said from Switzerland on Friday, where 15 American skiers are preparing to take part in that country’s national championships.
“He was the first American to win a world championship (in Nordic combined), and the first to win an Olympic medal (in nordic combined) when he won the silver in Vancouver. He helped to pioneer, not just the sport of Nordic combined, but Nordic skiing in our country. His place is well deserved.”
Demong went on to say that Spillane was one of the most dedicated and hard-working athletes he knows. He led his teammates by example and with results.
In his career, Spillane had more than 158 World Cup starts, nine Olympics starts and was a member of eight World Championships and four Winter Olympic teams. He had six World Cup podiums, but more importantly, a World Championships gold medal in 2003 and three Olympic silver medals from the 2010 Winter Olympic Games.
“I hope Johnny has a chance to enjoy this,” Demong said. “His (being named to the Hall of Fame) is a reflection not only of his results, but of the impact he has had in his community and on his sport.”
Demong said a new generation of Nordic combined skiers who think they can find success on the World Cup, at the World Championships and at the Olympics is all thanks to the example Spillane has set.
For Spillane’s parents, this was a special night filled with pride and emotion.
“I always thought that Johnny could be competitive, but I’m so proud of how far he took it,” Jim Spillane said. “This is the culmination of Johnny’s career and it’s huge. Now he is in tall cotton and he will be there forever. It’s well deserved.”
Johnny’s wife, Hilary, also was on hand for Friday night’s ceremony.
“Johnny had an amazing career,” Hilary said. ‘It’s great that he’s being recognized for all that he did. I think his induction kind of brings his career all together.”
To reach John F. Russell, call 970-871-4209, email jrussell@SteamboatToday.com or follow him on Twitter @Framp1966
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