Steamboat Springs If you want to win the national Nordic combined title in Steamboat Springs, chances are you'll have to beat a hometown hero.
If you happen to be Todd Lodwick or Johnny Spillane, well then, chances are you're going to have to get past your neighbor.
"Johnny had better watch out," Lodwick said Monday. "I think the Nordic combined title will come down to me and Johnny, and then it's going to be a hell of a race for third."
Lodwick is currently seventh and Spillane is ranked eighth on the World Cup Tour. Both athletes will be vying for the Chevy Truck's national title Wednesday when competition opens at Howelsen.
"Things are pretty relaxed this week," Lodwick said. "Me and Johnny are good for one another and this should be a really fun race."
Lodwick has won the title five times in the past including a title here in Steamboat in 2000. He also won the crown in 1999 (Lake Placid), 1998 (Steamboat), 1996 (Steamboat) and 1994 (Steamboat.) Spillane will be going for his first national title.
Bill Demong won the title in 2001-2002, but suffered a season-ending injury at the start of the season and will not defend his title this year.
"I'm jumping really well right now," Spillane said. "But I think everybody on the team is focused on peaking at the world championships."
Those championships will take place Feb. 21-28 in Val di Fiemme, Italy.
Both Spillane and Lodwick will be competing there as well.
"The national championships are just about having a lot of fun," Spillane said. "But there is a pretty good paycheck for winning and we are all very competitive. I'm sure that when we get to the top of the hill this week everybody is going to have their game face on."
Training will take place today from 9 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. on the K-90 and K-114 hills.
The first competition will take place Wednesday on the K-114 hill beginning at 9 a.m. with the trial jump.
The jumping portions of the Nordic combined and large hill event will be blended. (Nordic combined skiers will be eligible to win the national special jumping title as well).
The 7.5 --kilometer cross country portion of the Nordic combined competition will take place at the rodeo arena in the afternoon.
The race is scheduled to begin at 3 p.m.
The championships will come to an end Thursday with jumping on the K-90 hill. That event is also scheduled to begin at 9 a.m.
Many of the U.S. Ski Team's top athletes are expected to be in town including Lodwick, Spillane, Carl VanLoan, Alex Glueck and Jed Hinkley on the Nordic combined side. Alan Alborn, Tommy Schwall and Clint Jones are expected to represent the special jumping team.
In addition to the men's championships there will also be titles handed out to women in the special jumping and Nordic combined events.