First U.S. Nordic combined medals resonate 10 years later

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Heading into the 2010 Winter Olympics, no American had ever earned a medal in Nordic combined. The U.S. had only won one medal in each of the event’s constituent disciplines — cross-country skiing (Bill Koch in 1976) and ski jumping (Anders Haugen, who was bumped from fourth to third in the 1924 Olympics when a scoring error was discovered 50 years after the fact). 

But the U.S. team had plenty of confidence heading into Whistler Olympic Park. In the 2009 world championships, Todd Lodwick won two individual events; Bill Demong won the other.

In Whistler, with the unprecedented burden of expectations, the team delivered right out of the gate.

In a thrilling finish, with the top four separated by 1.5 seconds, 2003 world champion Johnny Spillane took silver in the normal hill event to break the medal drought. Lodwick finished just out of the medals in fourth.

Spillane would go on to take another silver in a 1-2 U.S. finish behind Demong in the other large hill event. The trio of world champions, along with Brett Camerota, added a fourth medal with a silver in the relay.

“It was a special time for our team,” Spillane said Wednesday. “We came in with high expectations. We were able to get off to a good start and carry that momentum.”

Lodwick made his Olympic debut in 1994 at age 17 and was within striking range of the Olympic podium in 2002, finishing fifth and seventh. Demong debuted in 1998. Spillane followed in 2002.

The Olympics on home snow in Park City proved to be a springboard to greater success. Lodwick kept making World Cup podiums. Demong was third in the World Cup season standings in 2008 and 2009.

“We were in a fortunate position with the Salt Lake Olympics,” Spillane said. “We had really good funding from an early age, and we got put into this development that really committed to being the best in the world.”

All three of the breakthrough U.S. athletes had some setbacks and time off. Demong and Spillane were injured. Lodwick briefly retired before coming back for 2010.

In Whistler, conditions were good, if a little warmer than ideal. In the idiosyncratic schedule that year, athletes had a nine-day wait from the first event to the relay.

The relay was important. The team had finished fourth in 2002 and was anxious to get a medal for everyone.

This time around, the U.S. finished a close second in the ski jump and would start the cross-country relay only two seconds behind Finland, with more than 30 seconds over the rest of the field. Camerota put the U.S. in first place, and Lodwick made it a two-team race with Austria. Spillane kept the U.S. in striking range. A late surge by Austria’s Mario Stecher to deny the U.S. a gold medal, but Demong comfortably crossed the line for silver.

“To finally be able to do it was really important for the team,” Spillane said. “We were able to put it together at the right time getting everyone to have a good day on the same day.”

The relay also ensured a medal for Lodwick, who had carried the flag for Nordic combined for many years. He literally carried the flag in 2014 as the U.S. flag-bearer in the opening ceremony.

The U.S. hasn’t been as successful in the mentally and physically demanding sport before or since that golden run. But the 2010 medal run has inspired younger athletes like Jasper Good, who started on the World Cup circuit as a teenager and made his Olympic debut in 2018.

“How the U.S. guys performed in 2010 had a huge impact on my excitement for the sport of Nordic combined,” Good said by email. “I vividly remember watching these events on a big projector at Olympian Hall in at the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club. The room was packed, and Ben (Ben Berend, another 2018 Olympian) and I had to stand on trash cans in the back of the room so that we could see what was happening. Amazing times.”

Steamboat Springs is also Spillane’s home. The Colorado resort keeps its jumps in steady use and hosts a Fourth of July event.

“It’s part of the culture here in town,” Spillane said. “The ski jumps are right downtown, so you grow up looking at them.”

With that foundation and people like Demong working with the next generation, Spillane is hopeful for the future.

“We might not see it this year or next year, but maybe 5-10 years from now,” Spillane said.

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Tara Geraghty-Moats leads Nordic combined’s flight to Olympics

Tara Geraghty-Moats
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Tara Geraghty-Moats is nearly unbeatable in an Olympic sport that isn’t yet a women’s Olympic sport.

Geraghty-Moats is the reigning Continental Cup champion in women’s Nordic combined, the sport in which athletes ski jump and then embark on a cross-country ski race. She has won all 13 of the Continental Cups she has entered. On the Grand Prix circuit, she’s 4-for-6, placing second in her debut and being disqualified in a competition in September.

The IOC’s decision to leave women’s Nordic combined out of the 2022 Olympics hasn’t deterred her from competition. She emphatically insists she’ll still be competing in 2026, when she’ll be 32 years old.

And she says this is not simply a replay of the women’s ski jumping saga, in which athletes and advocates had to lobby for many years to get recognition.

“First off, there is no lawsuit or negative media around Nordic combined,” Geraghty-Moats said. “I think the way the Nordic combined governing bodies on an international and national level are dealing with the gender equality issues should be an example to the world of how gender equality issues can be addressed and solved in a way that that everyone profits.”

The “negative media” around women’s ski jumping was plentiful at the time. FIS president Gian-Franco Kasper said the sport “seems not to be appropriate for ladies from a medical point of view.” Longtime IOC official Dick Pound of Canada was exasperated by women’s ski jumpers’ efforts to get a Canadian court to force the 2010 Olympics to include the sport.

Nordic combined is moving along more smoothly. Next season, the FIS will have a World Cup circuit and a world championship competition, both big steps toward Olympic status, and Geraghty-Moats says the level of competition is progressing much faster than it did in women’s ski jumping.

“The Nordic combined side of FIS seems to be more progressive and very invested in modernizing the sport as a whole,” she said.

This year, women’s Nordic combined was included for the first time in the Youth Olympic Games. Geraghty-Moats is past her junior years, but she attended as an “athlete role model,” mentoring young athletes at the Games.

Geraghty-Moats can speak with some authority on all Nordic events, having competed internationally in ski jumping in her early 20s and resuming her World Cup jumping career in 2014. She still competes in ski jumping, placing 10th in the team event in the 2019 world championships.

She has actually competed in every event on the Olympic program that includes cross-country skiing. She raced in junior cross-country events in 2012 and 2013. From 2010 to 2014, she was a biathlete, finishing 18th in the youth women’s sprint at the 2012 youth/junior world championships.

The year she started biathlon was actually a watershed moment for Nordic combined in the U.S. A golden generation of athletes earned the country’s first medals in the sport — a relay silver, two more silver medals for Johnny Spillane, and a gold medal for Bill Demong. Two-time world champion Todd Lodwick missed a medal by less than a second.

“I was personally inspired by the results, but also a little sad because at the time I didn’t think I would ever have the chance to compete in Nordic combined, purely because I was a girl,” Geraghty-Moats said.

She’s competing now.

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What to watch this week in Olympic sports: Shiffrin’s season finale

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Mikalea Shiffrin’s incredible 2018-19 season will come to a close this week at the World Cup Finals in Soldeu, Andorra, where Shiffrin is expected to ski for two more crystal globes. The women’s super-G and giant slalom crystal globes are still up for grabs, with Shiffrin holding point leads in both disciplines.

On Wednesday the men’s and women’s downhill kicks off the event, but Thursday will be the draw for U.S. fans hoping to see Shiffrin clinch her first ever globe in a speed event. She came close at the end of the 2017-18 season when she finished fifth in the World cup downhill standings.

Shiffrin’s second chance at a globe this week comes on Sunday in the women’s giant slalom.

Watch the women’s super-G live on Thursday beginning at 5:30 a.m. ET on TV and streaming on Olympic Channel and NBC Sports Gold, with an encore presentation airing on NBCSN on TV at 11:00 a.m. ET.

To see if Shiffrin can win the giant slalom crystal globe, watch the first run live on Sunday morning at 4:30 a.m. and the second run at 7:00 a.m. Live first run action will be streaming on OlympicChannel.com and NBC Sports Gold, with the second run airing live on TV and streaming with Olympic Channel and NBC Sports Gold.

Another huge name in U.S. Olympic sports, gymnast Simone Biles, will make her season debut this week at the World Cup event in Stuttgart, Germany.

At the 2018 World Championships in Doha, the four-time Olympic gold medalist, helped the U.S. win its fourth-straight team title, then became the first woman to win four all-around world titles. Biles also won gold in Doha in the apparatus finals in the floor and vault and took home silver on the uneven bars and bronze on balance beam.

Check out the full schedule below for times, events and where to watch live on TV and streaming.

ALPINE SKIING WORLD CUP FINAL — Soldeu, Andorra

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Wednesday 5:30 a.m. Men’s & Women’s Downhill Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
12:30 p.m. Men’s & Women’s Downhill* NBCSN
Thursday 5:30 a.m. Men’s & Women’s Super-G Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
11:00 p.m. Men’s & Women’s Super-G* NBCSN
Friday 7:00 a.m. Team Event Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Saturday 4:30 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. Men’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
8:00 a.m. Women’s Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 4:30 a.m. Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
5:30 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 1) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
7:00 a.m. Women’s Giant Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
8:00 a.m. Men’s Slalom (Run 2) Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
3:30 p.m. Women’s Giant Slalom* NBCSN

*Same-day delay

BIATHLON WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS — Oestersund, Sweden

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Tuesday 10:30 a.m. Women’s 15km Individual Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Wednesday 12:30 a.m. Women’s 15km Individual* NBCSN
11:00 a.m. Men’s 20km Individual Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
4:00 p.m. Men’s 20km Individual* NBCSN
Thursday 12:00 p.m. Single Mixed Relay Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Friday 1:00 a.m. Single Mixed Relay* NBCSN
Saturday 8:15 a.m. Women’s 4x6km Relay OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
11:30 a.m. Men’s 4×7.5km Relay OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
12:30 p.m. Women’s 4x6km Relay* Olympic Channel
1:30 p.m. Men’s 4×7.5km Relay* Olympic Channel
Sunday 8:15 a.m. Women’s 12.5km Mass Start OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
10:00 a.m. Women’s 12.5km Mass Start* Olympic Channel
11:00 a.m. Men’s 15km Mass Start Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold

*Same-day and next-day delay

CROSS-COUNTRY SKIING WORLD CUP — Drammen, Norway; Falun, Sweden

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Tuesday 8:15 a.m. Men’s & Women’s Sprint Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
11:30 p.m. Men’s & Women’s Sprint* NBCSN
Saturday 9:30 a.m. Men’s & Women’s Sprint Olympic Channel Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 6:30 a.m. Women’s 10km NBC Sports Gold
9:30 a.m. Men’s 15km NBC Sports Gold
12:30 p.m. Women’s 10km* Olympic Channel
1:00 p.m. Women’s 10km* Olympic Channel
2:00 p.m. Men’s 15km* Olympic Channel

*Same-day delay

CURLING WOMEN’S WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP — Silkeborg, Denmark

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 9:00 a.m. Russia vs. Switzerland OlympicChannel.com
9:00 a.m. Japan vs. Scotland OlympicChannel.com
2:30 p.m. South Korea vs. Canada OlympicChannel.com
2:30 p.m. USA vs. Denmark Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
Sunday 4:00 a.m. Canada vs. Germany OlympicChannel.com
4:00 a.m. USA vs. Japan OlympicChannel.com
9:00 a.m. Germany vs. Japan OlympicChannel.com
9:00 a.m. Switzerland vs. Sweden OlympicChannel.com
2:00 p.m. South Korea vs. USA OlympicChannel.com
2:00 p.m. Latvia vs. Canada OlympicChannel.com
4:30 p.m. USA vs. Japan* Olympic Channel
7:30 p.m. South Korea vs. USA* Olympic Channel

*Same-day delay

FENCING GRAND PRIX — Anaheim, California

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Sunday 9:30 p.m. From Anaheim, California OlympicChannel.com

FREESTYLE SKIING WORLD CUP — Mammoth Lakes, California; Quebec City, Quebec; Veysonnaz, Switzerland

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Thursday 12:30 a.m. Freeski: Slopestyle – Toyota U.S. Grand Prix* NBCSN
Saturday 4:00 p.m. Big Air OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 6:00 a.m. Ski Cross OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold

*Encore presentation

GYMNASTICS WORLD CUP — Baku, Azerbaijan; Stuttgart, Germany

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 4:00 a.m. Apparatus Finals (Day 1) OlympicChannel.com
7:15 a.m. Men’s Indiv. All-Around OlympicChannel.com
5:30 p.m. Apparatus Finals (Day 1)* Olympic Channel
7:30 p.m. Men’s Indiv. All-Around* Olympic Channel
Sunday 4:00 a.m. Apparatus Finals (Day 2) OlympicChannel.com
7:15 a.m. Women’s Indiv. All-Around OlympicChannel.com
2:00 p.m. Women’s Indiv. All-Around* Olympic Channel
4:30 p.m. Women’s Indiv. All-Around* NBCSN
10:30 p.m. Apparatus Finals (Day 2)* Olympic Channel

*Same-day delay

NORDIC COMBINED WORLD CUP — Schonach, Germany

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 6:00 a.m. HS106 OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
10:00 a.m. 10km OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 6:00 a.m. HS106 OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
10:00 a.m. 15km OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold

SNOWBOARDING WORLD CUP — Mammoth Lakes, California; Veysonnaz, Switzerland; Quebec City, Quebec

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Saturday 9:15 a.m. Snowboard Cross OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 8:00 p.m. Big Air OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
12:00 p.m. Halfpipe – Toyota U.S. Grand Prix* NBC

*Encore presentation

SKI JUMPING WORLD CUP — Nizhny Tagil, Russia; Raw Air Tournament Norway

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Monday 12:30 p.m. Raw Air – Men’s Indiv. (Qualifying) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
Tuesday 12:00 p.m. Raw Air – Men’s Indiv. OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
3:00 p.m. Raw Air – Women’s Indiv. OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
6:30 p.m. Raw Air – Men’s Indiv.* Olympic Channel
8:00 p.m. Raw Air – Women’s Indiv.* Olympic Channel
Wednesday 12:30 p.m. Raw Air – Men’s Indiv. (Qualifying) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
2:30 p.m. Raw Air – Men’s Indiv.* NBCSN
Thursday 9:00 a.m. Raw Air – Women’s Indiv. OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
12:00 p.m. Raw Air – Men’s Indiv. OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
3:00 p.m. Raw Air – Women’s Indiv.* Olympic Channel
4:30 p.m. Raw Air – Men’s Indiv.* Olympic Channel
Friday 12:30 p.m. Raw Air – Men’s Indiv. Ski Flying (Qualifying) OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
Saturday 8:00 a.m. Women’s Indiv. OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
12:00 p.m. Raw Air – Men’s Team Ski Flying OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
Sunday 8:00 a.m. Women’s Indiv. Olympic Channel/NBC Sports Gold
12:00 p.m. Raw Air – Men’s Indiv. Ski Flying OlympicChannel.com/NBC Sports Gold
5:00 p.m. Women’s Indiv.* Olympic Channel

*Same-day delay

SPEED SKATING WORLD CUP FINAL — Salt Lake City, Utah

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Monday 11:30 p.m. Day 2* NBCSN

*Same-day delay

SHORT TRACK WORLD CHAMPIONSHIPS — Sofia, Bulgaria

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Monday 1:00 a.m. From Sofia, Bulgaria NBCSN

MEN’S WRESTLING WORLD CUP — Yakutsk, Russia

Day Time (ET) Event TV Stream
Friday 10:00 p.m. Session 1 Olympic Channel
Saturday 3:30 a.m. Session 2 Olympic Channel
10:00 p.m. Session 3 Olympic Channel
Sunday 2:15 a.m. Bronze Medal Match Olympic Channel Olympic Channel
4:00 a.m. Gold Medal Match Olympic Channel Olympic Channel