Nordic combined: US on the brink of winning first Olympic medal

After the Nordic combined jumping round this morning, Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane are standing in second and fourth position going into the 10 km cross-country portion this afternoon.

At the 2010 Winter Olympics, America is on the brink of winning its first medal in Nordic combined, the eclectic European sport that combines ski jumping and cross-country skiing.

Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane sit second and fourth after the morning's jump, putting the US in excellent position to have one of its athletes stand atop the podium after this afternoon's 10 km cross-country race – celebrating a moment that was 20 years in the making.

For Lodwick, one of only four five-time Olympians from the US at these Games, it would satisfy the sole reason he made a comeback last year after taking two years off.

“I came back for the hardware, the medals,” said Lodwick before the Games, adding that he had tired of people asking him during his retirement whether he’d ever won a medal. “It was really hard to say no. That was a hard question, and that’s the real reason for coming back.”

Last year, Lodwick won an unprecedented two individual gold medals at World Championships – a comeback that inspired retired Austrian Felix Gottwald to also get back in the game for another Olympics this year.

Bill Demong also won gold at Worlds, sealing an American sweep of all individual events. But today Demong fell short in the jumping portion, putting him in 24th place with a deficit of one minute and 20 seconds to make up in the skiing portion. Rising star Brett Camerota managed a 10th place, however, giving the Americans more athletes in the top-10 than any other country.

“The only thing keeping a smile on my face right now is that I’ve got three teammates in the top 10,” said Demong as he headed over to the cross-country trails. “We’re so deep that we’re still killing it right now.”

Read more about Nordic combined and today’s race here.

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