Steamboat Springs Local skiers Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane had promised to give the hometown crowd plenty to cheer about Wednesday afternoon during the 2003 Chevy Trucks Nordic Combined Championships.
The stage had been set earlier in the day when Spillane took a narrow 9 second advantage over Lodwick in the jumping portion of the event. But the fans that showed up that afternoon knew the score would be settled along the rolling 7.5-kilometer cross country course nestled at the base of Howelsen Hill near the Romick Rodeo Arena.
"The plan was to keep with him through (the start/finish area) because of a little bit of head wind and then to see what Johnny was going to do," Lodwick said. "But I couldn't get my technique down so I decided to lead and then I just put the hammer down."
Lodwick overcame the deficit in the first 2.5 kilometers of the race and then took the lead headed into the third lap. Lodwick picked up the pace and Spillane just couldn't hang on as the veteran crossed the finish line 1 minute, 18 seconds ahead of the closest racer. It was Lowick's sixth National Nordic combined title.
"We skied together until the end of the second, but coming into the stadium at the start of the third he really put the hurt on," Spillane said after the race. "I would have had a really good race to stay with Todd. But, the fact is, I could have done better than that."
Still, Spillane was happy to get onto the podium for the second time in the day. He finished more than a minute ahead of third-place finisher Jed Hinkley.
Alex Glueck was fourth, Carl VanLoan came in fifth and Nathan Gerhart was sixth.
Spillane won the National Large Hill Jumping title earlier in the day by beating defending champ Alan Alborn and another Steamboat athlete, Clint Jones.
But in the Nordic combined championship, Lodwick wasn't about to give up the title without a fight -- even to another local skier.
"The title was going to come back to Steamboat with hometown natives ... I really competed well today," Lodwick said.