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Maggie Hendricks

U.S. men's Nordic team wins silver, goes from zero medals to two

Maggie Hendricks
Fourth-Place Medal

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Before Vancouver, the U.S. Nordic combined team had not won a single Olympic medal in a sport that has been contested since the first Winter Games in 1924.

Now, they have two.

The U.S. Nordic combined men's team won a silver medal in the team event, just a week after Johnny Spillane won silver, the first medal ever by an American Nordic combined athlete.

Though three members of the team – Spillane, Bill Demong and Todd Lodwick – are Olympic veterans, it was the newcomer, Brett Camerota, who made the biggest contribution to the team's win.

In Nordic combined, athletes ski jump in the first segment of the competition. Their success on the jump decides their starting position for the second segment, the cross-country ski race. Camerota's ski jump helped set up the team for its silver medal win, according to the Christian Science Monitor.

"I know it’s not the easiest thing to live up to Bill, Johnny and Todd … but he did it with grace," says veteran Lodwick, who made his debut at age 17 in the 1994 Lillehammer Games. "People are saying, 'Boy, Brett really has you to thank.' But we’re the ones that are going to be thanking him for the extraordinary effort today."

Camerota then skied the final leg of the race and was edged out by the Austrian racer in the final 150 meters of the course. But to the Americans, the color of the medal didn't matter as much as the fact that they won the medal together.

Spillane's individual win – a thrilling race that was aired live – brought attention to the previously winless sport, and the team medal will only increase Nordic combined's visibility. They have one more chance to bring home another medal with the large hill competition Thursday.

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