Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Todd Lodwick's Nordic combined career came to an end Tuesday in Italy when he finished ninth in the sprint event. Like so many times before, Lodwick finished ahead of every other American but short of his elusive goal -- an Olympic medal.
For sure, this was not Lodwick's best Olympics -- in addition to missing out on a medal in his fourth try at the games, he uncharacteristically lost his composure and made comments about a teammate that demonstrated a lack of sportsmanship that the Olympics are supposed to embody.
Still, we hope that as his career comes to an end, Lodwick will be remembered more for what he accomplished than what he said while he was heading out the door.
We strongly disagree with Lodwick's remarks about teammate Carl Van Loan after the U.S. finished seventh in a nine-team field in the team event Thursday. Lodwick said Van Loan "dragged down" the rest of the team and him. His comments were selfish and misdirected. Even if Brett Camerota -- Lodwick's choice -- had competed on the four-man team instead of Van Loan, the Americans likely were not going to get a medal. Why? Because the team probably didn't jump well enough to be in contention anyway, no matter who was the fourth leg.
Lodwick owes Van Loan and the team an apology. Unfortunately, his remarks were all too characteristic of the Americans during these Olympics. Taken cumulatively, skier Bode Miller's actions, the spat between speed skaters Shani Davis and Chad Hedrick and the untimely showboating of snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis have left the U.S. Olympic Committee with considerable work to do on the team's image.
But consider for a moment what Lodwick said after Tuesday's individual sprint: "It's always not fun to think about it before, to think about the could've, would've, should've -- if the air was better, if I had a better jump. I've been Olympic champion a hundred times in my head. Sometimes, you work really hard and don't accomplish what you set out to."
That's more like the kind of thoughtful remarks we have come to expect from Lodwick in the past decade as he has built the most impressive resume in America's Nordic combined skiing history.
Lodwick has the highest Olympic finishes for an American in Nordic combined. He was fourth and seventh in the two individual events in Salt Lake City and eighth and ninth in Italy. He was part of a team showing, fourth, in the 2002 Olympics that was America's best. He has more World Cup wins (six), more podiums (24) and more top-10 finishes than any American in Nordic combined history. Seven times he has finished among the top 10 skiers in the world in his discipline, and he has been on the podium at least once in each of the past 11 years. And he generally has conducted himself with grace and class.
Skiers such as Gary Craw--ford, Todd Wilson and Kerry Lynch laid the groundwork for Steamboat Springs' growing Nordic combined legacy, and Lodwick took it to the next level. Yes, he failed to win Olympic hardware, but he has not failed. He raised the profile of his sport and his hometown. And he has raised the bar for Steamboat's next generation of Nordic combined skiers.
The 2006 Games did not have the dream ending Lodwick and many in Steamboat would have liked. Nonetheless, we would be remiss -- as a newspaper and as a community -- not to tip our hats to a remarkable career that has been key to helping build our town's rich Olympic tradition.