Soldier Hollow, Utah "Kris, I'm done. I'm fried. I have nothing left," Todd Lodwick told his older brother Kris Thursday night.
It was the eve of the final Nordic combined ski race of the Salt Lake 2002 Winter Olympics, and Kris Lodwick disagreed with his sibling. He believed his brother had more left in the reserve tanks than he realized.
Turns out Kris was correct.
Todd Lodwick electrified a wildly cheering crowd at Soldier Hollow Friday morning to place fifth. For a time, he was in third place, and the crowd was on its feet.
"He needs to come out with something spectacular on his feet," Kris said, moments before the start of the race. "If Todd and Billy (Demong) come out with the good skis (and a little extra magic in the wax) they could do it. I want it so bad for him. He has the body, he has the training and he has the support."
The Olympic medal that Todd Lodwick so keenly desires continues to elude him, but the crowd that basked in the sunshine here Friday didn't seem to mind.
Kris Lodwick sought to clarify the importance of a medal to his brother. He explains that Todd's motivation isn't just about personal glory (although whatever came along with a medal would be fine too), but also a strong desire to elevate the stature of Nordic combined in America.
"In Norway, fourth place is awesome," Kris said, referring to the U.S. finish in the team event. "In the U.S., it takes a medal to get the attention. Fourth doesn't get the exposure he's looking for, not only for himself, but for the sport. That's the big picture he's looking at. That one more level you want to take it to."
Based on the attention Nordic combined drew from the national media the past two weeks, a portion of that goal has already been accomplished.
Park City Nordic
is pro Howelsen Hill
Promoters of Nordic combined and ski jumping in Steamboat are closely tuned in to the impact the sparkling facilities at Soldier Hollow and Utah Olympic Park could have on their own beloved Howelsen Hill.
Clearly the Park City/Heber Valley area has the preeminent facilities in North America now.
Of course, there is a determined effort underway to establish an endowment for the facilities at Howelsen.
At least one gentleman who had everything to do with building the new ski jumping facilities west of Park City is pulling for Howelsen Hill, too.
Chuck Heckert is "ski jumps manager" at UOP, and acted as "chief of venue" during the Olympics.
Heckert has been in Park City for a decade now, but he has invested a good deal of energy into Howelsen Hill he even worked on the rock gabion baskets that stabilized the landing hills there.
"My heart's still in Steamboat," Heckert confessed. "Steamboat is still Steamboat. To build and keep up a good training facility there is good for the sport."
Bob Averill of Denver concurred with Heckert, and was even more emphatic about the importance of keeping Howelsen vital.
"It's essential," Averill said. He acted as chief of stewards at UOP.
Averill grew up ski jumping at Terry Peak, S.D. When his family moved to Denver, he resumed training at Winter Park and at Steamboat.
This was Averill's first Olympic Games, but he has attended World Championships in Lahti, Finland, and at Ramsau, Austria. Averill believes the job Utah did hosting the games, and in particular the Nordic events, made a big impression on the Europeans contingents.
"The Norwegian team doctor told me he has been to 10 Olympics and this was one of the top two," Averill said.
The top rated Olympics? The good doctor chose Lillehammer in 1994, naturally. But he rated Salt Lake City a close second.
Heckert said Torbin Yegeseth of the International Ski Federation told him that in his view, these games offered "the fairest and best judging of all the winter Olympics he's seen since 1960."
"The Europeans have learned a lot from how we've put these games on,"
Averill said. "I predict this will become a model for the next games."
It would almost come as a surprise if the winter Olympics didn't return to Utah sometime within the next 20 years.