Jackson Hole, Wyo. During his eight years as a member of the U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team, Todd Lodwick has been many things. He was a top prospect when he first joined the team in 1992; he was a local hero when he won his first World Cup in Steamboat Springs in 1996; and he has grown into the leader of the up-and-coming American team.
But what Lodwick has not been, according to U.S. coach Tom Steitz, is a summer guy.
"I've never been a good summer jumper," Lodwick said from Jackson Hole, Wyo., on Monday." I've always said summer is summer, and winter is winter. There's a big difference."
But this summer has been different and the coaches on the U.S. team are optimistic that Lodwick will be able to carry some of his success this summer over to the winter season.
"He's been killing everybody all spring and summer," Steitz said. "Hopefully he will be able to do that when the snow comes."
Lodwick won three of four intrasquad competitions the Americans have held this summer. Fellow World Cup skier Bill Demong won the other.
Steitz said holding the competitions between the members of his own team has helped to keep the skiers motivated in the past. Keeping Lodwick motivated this summer, however, has not been a problem.
"Last year, we had seven competitions and he only won one," Steitz said. "This has been one of his best summers."
The U.S. Nordic Combined Ski Team, which is headquartered in Steamboat Springs, has spent a lot of time on the road this summer preparing for the upcoming season.
The team will have a short training session in Steamboat this month before heading to Salt Lake City when the Olympic jumps open there at the end of the month.
The team's informal competitions opened in Lake Placid at the end of April.
The team held two in Canada in May and early June. The final one came in Lake Placid late last month.
Lodwick said his improvements this summer are the result of the U.S. team's newest member: jumping coach Jan Erik.
"I'm feeling pretty good about my jumping right now," Lodwick said. "When his attitude is good and my attitude is good, we seem to have good success on the hill."
Still, Lodwick knows that jumping on plastic and snow are two different things. Still, he said his success this summer has him looking forward to what will be an important pre-Olympic year for the team.
With just more than 400 days until the start of the 2002 Winter Olympic Games, Steitz said the team will start taking steps towards preparing for the big competition. The team plans on spending plenty of time in Park City this summer and winter.
To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail him at email@example.com