John F. Russell: Lodwick: Don't sweat the medal

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He has more national titles, more World Cup victories and more honors than any other Nordic combined skier in American history.

But for Lodwick, one is still missing: The Olympic medal that has eluded him during his career is still out there, still waiting.

It's the carrot that drives him when he's competing on the World Cup Tour, and it fuels his motivation during the off-season.

We all know that John Elway would have been a great quarterback without a Super Bowl ring, but how cool was it that he collected a pair of them before he hung up his helmet?

At this point of his career, Lodwick is looking for a similar piece of the puzzle to complete his career. There is no doubt he will be looking for it at the Olympic Games in Italy next year.

He will tell you that the Olympics, like the World Championships, is just one day in a career full of days.

Maybe that's why Olympic medals are so special, and why so many athletes around the world want to win them. But an athlete can be the best in his or her sport and never win one of those precious medals.

When Lodwick retires, whenever that happens, he will be remembered as one of this country's best Nordic combined skiers.

For more than a decade, he has anchored the U.S. Nordic Combined team and shown young skiers in Steamboat Springs what is possible -- even in a country that has little understanding of his sport.

He has 15 National titles and a string of top-10 World Cup finishes that stretches eight years.

During his 13-year career, he has displayed a competitive drive that has yet to fade. He proved that last weekend by winning three national championships -- including two in special jumping.

Yes, Todd Lodwick is a superstar. Unfortunately, Americans only discover how good he is for a few days every four years.

It's hard to imagine Lodwick not leading the American team in February in Torino, Italy.

It's also hard to imagine that, if Lodwick medals, it will have any lasting effect on the perception of Nordic combined in the United States. America will pay attention for a couple of weeks, but in the long run, it will be back to football, basketball and baseball.

Nobody knows what will happen at the next Winter Olympic Games. But I can't help but think that Lodwick still has a few more pieces to add to his career puzzle, and it would only be fitting if at least one of those pieces is an Olympic medal.

-- To reach John F. Russell call 871-4209 or e-mail jrussell@steamboatpilot.com.

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