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Steamboat’s Lodwick to compete in Continental Cup

Skier will be among 55 attending this weekend's event

Todd Lodwick

If you go

What: Nordic Excavating 2010 FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup

Where: Howelsen Hill, on the big hill and inside Brent Romick Rodeo Arena

When: Friday: training from 9:30 a.m. to noon; Saturday and Sunday: trial jump at 9:30 a.m., competition jump at 10:30 a.m., cross-country at 2:30 p.m.

Cost: Free

U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team (Nine to 10 starts)

Todd Lodwick*

Eric Camerota*

Nick Hendrickson*

Brett Denney*

Michael Ward

Erik Lynch

Adam Loomis

Cliff Field

Alec Gantick

Tyler Smith

Spencer Knickerbocker

*likely to get a starting position

— Olympic silver medalist and World Champion Todd Lodwick will add a little star power to this weekend's Nordic Excavating 2010 FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup lineup, which will bring some of the world's top Nordic athletes to Howelsen Hill.

"It's exciting any time you have international athletes show up in Steamboat Springs to compete," Lodwick said. "These are some of the most promising skiers in the world."

The Continental Cup is a steppingstone to the more competitive Nordic combined World Cup circuit, which is holding events in Europe. Con­tin­ental events are where the sports stars of tomorrow earn the points and experience to move up to the World Cup.

Lodwick has competed in the North American Continental Cup series for the past three years but not because he needs to earn more points to move up in the world rankings.

"I like to start on the Continental Cup for a couple of reasons," Lodwick said. "It allows me to compete close to home, and it helps me gain confidence before I get to the World Cup."

Lodwick said he approaches the Continental Cup the same way he approaches the World Cup. The fields are a little different, but he said success rests on an athlete's ability to jump far and ski fast. He added that the top five athletes in this weekend's competitions could be competing on the World Cup and doing well. There also are a lot of potential stars who will be looking for the breakout performance that could launch their careers, he said.

The 55 athletes will come from 13 countries, and the field will include strong teams from the United States, Austria and Germany.

The Continental Cup events in Steamboat will be followed by two more next week in Park City, Utah. U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team staff member Greg Poirier said the events should play a key role for the Americans as they move into the season.

"Our goal is to score enough points to add to or maintain the positions we have on the Con­tinental Cup," Poirier said. "We would also love to score enough points to gain another spot on the World Cup."

It will not be easy for the U.S. team.

Top international stars including Austrian Benjamin Kreiner, who finished second in points on the last Continental Cup, and his teammate Marco Pichi­­mayer, who was fifth, are expected to lead the field along with Lodwick.

Other top contenders will include Germany's Steffen Tepel and his teammate Wolfgang Bosi. France's Samuel Guy (the son of former Nordic combined star Fabrice Guy) also is expected to be strong, as are Eric Camerota, Nick Hendrickson and Brett Denney for the United States. The team also will include Michael Ward, Erik Lynch, Adam Loomis, Cliff Field, Alec Gantick, Tyler Smith and Spencer Knickerbocker.

The athletes will take part in an official training session from 9:30 a.m. to noon Friday. Saturday's one jump, 10-kilometer race will begin with trial jumps at 9:30 a.m. followed by the official jump at 10:30 a.m. At 2:30 p.m., the athletes will move to the cross-country course for a 10-kilometer race that begins and ends in the rodeo grounds. Sunday's event will follow the same format and schedule as Saturday's.

This is the first time since December 2006 that Steamboat Springs has hosted a Con­­tinental Cup competition.

"There is always a lot of pressure that goes along with competing," Hendrickson said.

But Hendrickson is happy to be competing at Howelsen Hill, where the Americans should have the advantage against the teams that travel from Europe.

"We know the ins and outs," Hendrickson said. "We should have an edge because we train here and we know this course."