WHISTLER (AP) -- The American Nordic combined athletes are breathing a whole lot easier -- and not just because they're back from high altitude training.
After celebrating their first Olympic medal in the sport that combines ski jumping with cross-country skiing -- a silver by Johnny Spillane in the normal hill event -- the Americans retreated to their home base of Park City, Utah, elevation 7,000 feet.
They returned to Canada this weekend and resumed training at Whistler Olympic Park on Sunday, where the highest point on the cross country course barely tops 3,000 feet.
Coach Dave Jarrett said Spillane's medal eased the pressure on the U.S. team but added: "Our goals are more than just one medal."
The team relay is Tuesday and the long hill event is Thursday.
Many teams took advantage of the long break between competitions to venture into Vancouver. But Spillane said going back to Utah to train was a huge benefit for him and teammates Todd Lodwick and Bill Demong.
"I think that the team was able to take a deep breath and relax a little," Spillane told The Associated Press via e-mail Sunday. "We had a lot of expectations that we put on ourselves to get a medal and to be able to do it in the first event was great! Now we can continue to focus on the right thing, which is performing well. If we can do that I think we will have more good results."
Spillane also revealed he might have tuckered out at the end of the first race, when hard-charging Frenchman Jason Lamy Chappuis edged him for the gold medal by four-tenths of a second.
"I was a little sick before the last event, and I think the lack of sleep put me over the edge," Spillane said in an e-mail to the AP. "In Park City I got to rest and recover a little better then we would have been able to do here, and I had a couple of great sessions. Now, I'm ready to roll for the next events."
The Americans envision themselves standing atop the podium after each of the remaining races.
"It's almost week in and week out that we have three in the top 10," Lodwick said. "We've got high expectations, but these expectations are realistic. They're nothing farfetched. If we keep doing what we're doing and we keep grounded, we'll be just fine. I'm psyched. I'm really psyched."
The Americans' hopes skyrocketed a year ago when they dominated the world championships, winning three titles. And they didn't disappoint in the first event at the Winter Olympics, with a 2-4-6 finish that they hope bodes well for their chances in the team event.
"I think last week was an awesome competition for the entire team, and for us now to have had a medal is great," Demong said. "Johnny came through for us. I think we're just really excited to be in a good position."
Lodwick disputed the notion, however, that the pressure is gone.
"There's probably more pressure on us than ever -- and we like it."
The Vancouver Olympics and the medals race both finished in spectacular fashion for North Americans. The United States won 37 medals and Canada finished with 14 gold medals. Both are the best of these games and part of the greatest hauls ever at a Winter Olympics.
With one more perfect run down sliding's most difficult track, Steve Holcomb drove USA-1 to the Olympic gold medal in four-man bobsledding on Saturday, ending a 62-year drought for the Americans in the event.