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Johnny Spillane ( 1980 - )  Category ( Sports_Figures ) [suggest a correction]

Johnny SpillaneThree-time Nordic combined Olympic silver medalist Johnny Spillane was born and raised practically in the shadow of a major Colorado ski resort. "Every day the first thing I saw when I walked out my door was the ski jump," he has said.

He is the oldest child of three and has a younger brother and sister. When he was a very small child he witnessed ski jumping -- one of the sports in which he would rank so highly later -- and wanted to try it. But, at age two he was too young, and so Spillane's parents put him on regular skis, where he quickly excelled.

By the time he was eleven, though, he was champing at the bit for jumping, and his parents agreed to allow him to try. For the first couple of years he jumped using alpine skis, then moved onto authentic jumping skis at age thirteen.. "I just jumped on alpine skis for a long time, sliding off the jump with my alpine skis," he has stated.

Spillane comes from a sports-minded family, and from early childhood he was involved in fishing and hunting. His brother, Sam Spillane, is a renowned fly-fisherman. He attended the Lowell Whiteman school, where his father Jim served as headmaster. He excelled in school, even after he was selected as a member of the 1998 US Olympic team as an alternate. That spring he graduated as a National Honor Society scholar, having often made the honor roll and Dean's list.

He went on to win his first championship in 2003, winning the gold medal for the 7.5 km sprint event at the World Championship. His current Olympic season has brought numerous victories and accolades, including a World Cup win and two fourth place finishes. The three silver medals he earned at the Vancouver, Canada Olympics serve as the capstone for the ski season of 2010.

Spillane proved to be a champion on the slopes and off. In 2004 he helped organize and lead a search and rescue effort that resulted in saving his brother Sam's life, when Sam fell on an arrow while hunting.

Despite his dare-devilish leaps through the air, Spillane is actually afraid of flying in airplanes."I hate it. I just sit there and suffer. From the time the wheels come up to the time they go down, I'm not having any fun." Perhaps he feels that his amazing, high-flying jumps are not only of his own making, but under his own control, whereas on a plane he is a passenger only.

Spillane's hobbies include cooking and grilling. "I own the grill," he said. He also collects fly rods, enjoys reading ("The Wheel of Time" series is listed among his favorites) fiction and nonfiction. He owns two English bulldogs named Maynard and Hayduke. Spillane was reported stating that his motto is: "The hard work is going to pay off!" He is a newlywed, and has stated that his bride, Hillary, is his closest and favorite companion. He most enjoys time spent at home with his wife and pets, something which is rare and cherished due to his frequent travel.

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