Nordic combined athletes look to future
2011 World Championships in Oslo could be swan song for Nordic skiers
Whistler, British Columbia — One came out of retirement to live out a dream, one overcame to be an Olympic champion from a near career- and life-threatening injury, and one overcame multiple surgeries and injuries in the past nine months to be a three-time silver medalist.
Todd Lodwick, Billy Demong and Johnny Spillane have seen it all in their U.S. Nordic combined careers.
They’ve seen the bottom, where the team could barely compete on a world stage, and now the top, where Demong and Spillane went gold-silver in the individual large hill Gundersen event Thursday. Two days earlier, the threesome, along with teammate Brett Camerota, stood on the podium as silver medalists in the team event.
With history now made for the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team, what happens next?
All three team veterans said Thursday that it’s too early to decide on anything.
“All along, I’ve said I want to ski next year,” Lodwick said, referring to 2011. “I don’t know after these Olympic Games, I’m leaving it up in the air. With World Championships, I mean a lot depends on the team and a lot on what we want to do. I’m going to discuss it with my family, and we’ll go from there.”
The 2011 Nordic World Ski Championships are in Oslo, Norway, one of the birthplaces of Nordic skiing. The event could draw as many as 50,000 people and further solidify the Americans’ presence as a Nordic force.
Spillane, visibly exhausted from his three silver-medal performances in the past 11 days, said he’ll compete in the 2011 championships. The immediate future is the bigger question.
“I’m going home,” Spillane said. “I’m going to skip the next World Cup. I haven’t been home in a month. It’ll be nice to go relax. But really, I don’t know what I’m doing tomorrow. … But I’ll ski through Oslo for sure.”
Demong also is unsure of his skiing future. His immediate plans included a kiss for his girlfriend and a hug for his mom.
Of course he also was excited for Thursday night’s medal ceremony, where he would stand atop the podium and atop the Nordic skiing world.
Demong was scheduled to go to Finland on Tuesday with the junior team to ski in some World Cup events. But after Thursday’s gold-medal performance, he wasn’t so sure.
Regardless, Demong said he’s got a sneaking suspicion the core of the team has at least one more year of competition left.
“That has been something I’ve focused on for a while,” he said. “Oslo and the World Championships have been on my horizon. Maybe the spring or later in the summer I’ll know how long (I’ll continue to compete) after that. But I think all three of us are planning on going to the World Championships.”
Rest assured that after their performance in the 2010 Winter Olympics, the world will be awaiting their arrival.
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