LILLEHAMMER, Norway (Dec. 5) - After leading the way in seventh for the U.S. following the jumping round, Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO) pushed his way in the cross country pack to finish sixth overall in the nordic combined World Cup on Saturday in Lillehammer.
"I was happy with both the jumping and the cross country. I came in without super high expectations and was just going to do whatever I could," Spillane said. "For sure, I am really satisfied with the results and am looking forward to getting more training and getting faster from here."
Jason Lamy Chappuis of France won the competition, followed in second by Norway's Petter Tande and Germany's Eric Frenzel in third.
According to Nordic Combined Head Coach Dave Jarrett, Spillane's finish was the best way for him to start the season.
"It was a good day for Johnny compared to where he finished the season last year. It was great for him to start the year like this. He's jumping well and had a good cross country race," Jarrett said. "For Johnny, it's a huge start for the season. Hopefully he can just stay here and as we do more competitions he can be getting better in race shape."
Spillane agrees that the time away to recover from knee surgery this summer has made it hard to get on top, but he says he's almost there.
"The jumping has been pretty good for me and cross country is getting better all the time," Spillane said.
Saturday's race was riddled with wind and bitter cold that caused the racers to bunch into groups during the cross country portion of the competition, making it more difficult to make up time and advance.
"He was hanging between 12 and 15 seconds behind the lead and he just couldn't bridge that gap," Jarrett said. "The race ended up packing together. If you were by yourself in the wind, it was too hard to bridge any gaps."
World Champion Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) followed Spillane for the U.S. finishing 14th in what Jarrett said was merely a starting point for the season.
"Bill actually jumped really well. Like he said, he didn't have a good race, but he didn't feel like it was a bad race, either. It was the first race of the season and I don't think it's a true reflection of what he has done," Jarrett said. "I know he can ski faster and he knows he can ski faster."
The Team competes again in Lillehammer on Sunday before moving on to Austria Dec. 19-20. The nordic combined World Cup that was to be held in Harrachov, Czech Republic Dec. 12-13 has been canceled. Further details on rescheduling are pending.
"It's good to get the first competition under our belts, see where we are and keep moving forward from there," Jarrett said.
2010 DKB FIS NORDIC COMBINED WORLD CUP
Lillehammer, Norway - Dec. 5, 2009
1. Jason Lamy Chappuis, France (1/18) 24:25.9
2. Petter Tande, Norway (5/10) +0.1 (seconds back)
3. Eric Frenzel, Germany (2/15) +1.5
4. Tino Edelmann, Germany (3/16) +6.0
5. Bjoern Kircheisen, Germany (12/5) +13.1
6. Johnny Spillane, Steamboat Springs, CO (7/14) +13.7
14. Billy Demong, Vermontville, NY (16/19) +56.4
41. Bryan Fletcher, Steamboat Springs, CO (51/37) +2:38.4
56. Brett Camerota, Park City, UT (29/60) +3:56.2