Spillane Wins U.S.'s 1st Medal In Nordic Combined The American Nordic skiing team reached a milestone at the Winter Olympics Sunday. Johnny Spillane won the silver medal in the Nordic combined, which is a mix of ski jumping and cross country. It is the first medal for the U.S. in the event, and only the third ever in Nordic sports.
NPR logo Spillane Wins U.S.'s 1st Medal In Nordic Combined

Spillane Wins U.S.'s 1st Medal In Nordic Combined

The American Nordic skiing team reached a milestone at the Winter Olympics Sunday. Johnny Spillane won the silver medal in the Nordic combined, which is a mix of ski jumping and cross country. It is the first medal for the U.S. in the event, and only the third ever in Nordic sports.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:

There was also an Olympic breakthrough, yesterday, for team USA. American Johnny Spillane raced to a dramatic finish on the cross-country track near Whistler, winning a silver medal in Nordic Combined. That's the first American medal ever in that sport. From Whistler, NPR's Howard Berkes reports.

HOWARD BERKES: But then Jason Lamy Chappuis of France rushed past, leaving Spillane with a silver medal.

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JOHNNY SPILLANE: I was pretty worried I wasn't going to finish. I was really tired. But I tried as hard as I could on the hill to get away. And I thought I was okay, and then about halfway up the hill I realized I was in a little bit of trouble and, you know, a silver medal is good, too.

BERKES: It's good enough for the first American medal ever in Nordic Combined, an event that included ski jumping earlier in the day. Nordic sports don't attract much attention in the U.S. Spillane hopes his breakthrough medal will make a difference.

SPILLANE: Hopefully, you know, this will help put Nordic Combined a little bit more on the map and so people don't just pay attention every four years - they'll start paying attention every weekend when we're competing over in Europe.

BERKES: Well, if you're Johnny Spillane, you get a Nordic Combined medal.

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BERKES: Howard Berkes, NPR News, Whistler.

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