Steamboat Springs native Todd Lodwick, competing in his fourth and final Olympics, vented his frustrations Thursday after the U.S. finished a disappointing seventh in the Nordic combined team competition.
Lodwick was angry about the choice of Carl Van Loan as the fourth and final member of the team. Other team members who competed Thursday were Bill Demong and Steamboat's Johnny Spillane.
"I've trained really hard all year, and to be dragged down by one person really hurts," Lodwick said. "I've worked hard. I just have not had the opportunity to have four really strong guys all at the same time. It's not on my shoulders. I can only do what I can do, and hopefully that is jumping far and skiing fast."
Lodwick said Brett Camerota should have replaced Van Loan on the team.
"Brett had proven himself through this winter that he is a better competitor," Lodwick said. "He deserved a spot on the team. It's disappointing."
Coaches admit that Van Loan struggled in the jumping and cross-country portions of Thursday's team event, but they defended their decision to start him.
"It's been sort of an internal battle between the three of them," team coach Bard Elden said about Van Loan, Brett Camerota and Eric Camerota. "It hasn't been really clear between them. It wasn't a really clear position, but whoever we put in, I don't think it would have mattered. We put Carl in based on experience, which the Camerotas don't have as much of, and we were all very much in agreement on doing that.
"The performance from all three of them were not completely what we needed. We were hoping that Carl could pull us through it like he did last year at World Championships. It was his chance to take, but I'm not looking back and saying that we should have chosen somebody else. I can't see that it would have made a difference."
Elden said he would try to put the disagreement with Lodwick -- the team's top athlete -- behind him as they look forward to the final Nordic combined competition of the Olympics -- Tuesday's sprint event.
The sprint -- one jump and 7.5-kilometer race -- will be Lod-wick's final shot at an Olympic medal. The event is in Pragelato.
Lodwick has been a member of the U.S. Team for 13 years. For the past two years, however, he has spent most of his time training in Steamboat Springs with adviser Tom Steitz. He travels with the team -- which is based in Park City, Utah -- to competitions and training camps.