Hometown hero

Steamboat's Todd Lodwick dazzles on Howelsen jumps

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Boys don't think much about making Olympic teams, standing atop World Cup podiums or being called heroes. Not at 12. At least not Todd Lodwick.

Lodwick and his friends were dropped off at Howelsen Hill because that is where they wanted to be, and jumping and skiing was what they wanted to do.

"This is where I grew up," Lodwick said.

Saturday, Lodwick, now 27, returned to his home hill for a USSA Super Tour jumping event, as he pit stopped in Steamboat Springs between World Cup stops in Austria and Japan.

He jumped 93 meters off the K-90 hill and 121.5 meters off the K-114 hill to the delight of the spectators who came out to catch a glimpse of arguably the greatest American Nordic combined athlete in history.

"It is awesome that he's here," Taylor Fletcher, 13, said.

Fletcher, an up-and-coming Nordic combined athlete from the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, started ski jumping when he was 4.

Lodwick doesn't remember his first time down the K-90 hill, but he recalls his first run down the K-114. He was 12. At that time, jumpers started out of kick-starts instead of seated on a bar.

On that day, he didn't know he would become an Olympian or win a World Cup event in Schonach, Germany, the most prestigious Nordic venue. He didn't know that the city of Steamboat would make banners wearing his name, calling him a hero.

Coaches hinted he would succeed.

"But athletes make the decision," Lodwick said.

This summer, Lodwick jumped well and trained hard and knew he would be one of the world's best Nordic combined athletes this winter if given the right circumstances.

An illness and adverse conditions hampered him earlier this World Cup season, but Lodwick is now on a run of seven-straight top eight finishes, including three straight podiums between Dec. 30 and Jan. 4, a first in his illustrious career.

So Lodwick didn't have to jump Saturday, in tiny Steamboat, for zero World Cup points.

He chose to.

Lodwick remembers growing up around the U.S. Ski Team members. The stares Lodwick directed at those veterans when he was younger are the same stares he gets now, even as he stands in a room of young skiers, sharing gummy orange slices and stories.

"The kids need to see the national team guys," Lodwick said. "It's nice to be around to find out where (the program's youth) are at."

And for those that have followed -- and continue to follow -- Lodwick's career, on Saturday, it was nice to see how far he has come.

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