Johnny Spillane

Johnny Spillane Biography

Athlete (1980–)
Nordic combined skier Johnny Spillane is a three-time Olympic medalist and world champion.


Born in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, on November 24, 1980, Johnny Spillane was an avid skier and ski jumper by the age of 10. In 2003 he became the first American to win a gold medal at the Nordic World Championships. He made history again at the 2010 Winter Games when he became just the third American to medal in a Nordic event.

Early Years

Skier Johnny Spillane was born on November 24, 1980, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. In a town famous for producing and attracting Olympic athletes, Spillane was immersed in the world of skiing and winter sports at an early age. He was on skis at 2 years old and at the age of 9 started ski jumping at Steamboat's famous Howelsen Hill, located just a couple of blocks from his home. "Every day, the first thing I saw when I walked out the door was the ski jump," Spillane once recalled.

Initially an avid alpine skier, Spillane switched to Nordic at the age of 12 and never went back. He has since become one of the world's top athletes in the Nordic combined, which blends ski jumping and Nordic skiing.

Nordic Glory

While a junior at Lowell Whiteman School, where his father worked as headmaster, Spillane qualified for the 1998 U.S. Olympic team as an alternate. The experience allowed him to travel with the team to Japan and become acclimated to high-pressure international competition.

The following year, he helped an upstart U.S. team win the gold at the World Junior Championships in Austria. But it was at the 2003 Nordic World Championships in Italy where Spillane achieved international fame. In thrilling fashion, Spillane came from behind at the last second in the 7.5 km event to become the first American to win a gold. Almost as shocking was the fact that Spillane had raced with a torn labrum in his left shoulder.

Following a disappointing performance at the 2006 Winter Olympics in Turin, Italy, Spillane bounced back at the 2010 Vancouver Games. In the combined normal hill event, Spillane made history by capturing the silver, making him just the third American to ever medal in a Nordic event at the Olympics. Later, Spillane earned two additional silvers, in the 4x5 Team Event and the 10 km large individual hill. In April 2013, Spillane announced his retirement after having competed for more than 13 years.

Personal Life

Spillane lives with his wife Hilary, a photographer, in Steamboat Springs, Colorado. They have two daughters, Hadley and Genevieve.

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