Local skiers named to Olympic team

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The U.S. Nordic Combined and Special Jumping teams made it official Monday by naming 11 skiers to the Olympic team that will compete in Turin, Italy, in February.

As expected, Steamboat Springs' Todd Lodwick highlighted the six-member Nordic combined squad. This is going to be Lodwick's fourth trip to the Winter Olympic Games. He also competed in Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994, Nagano, Japan in 1998 and in Salt Lake City in 2002.

Olympic veterans named to the Nordic combined squad include Johnny Spillane, who competed in 2002 and won the sprint event in Val di Fiemme, Italy, in 2003; Bill Demong, who competed in 1998 and 2002, and will make his third trip to the Olympics; and Carl Van Loan, who was on the team in 2002 but did not compete.

Like Lodwick, Spillane is a native of Steamboat Springs who grew up on the jumps at Howelsen Hill. He separated his shoulder before the first competition this season but returned to the World Cup last month and will compete in Italy.

Demong is not a native of Steamboat Springs, but he spent several years training here with former U.S. coach Tom Steitz and lived in Steamboat while he was sidelined with a skull fracture that kept him off the jump hills during the 2003 season.

Brett and Eric Camerota have earned their first invitations to the Olympic Games. The twins from Park City, Utah, have been regulars on the World Cup and World Cup B tours the past couple of years.

Olympic veterans also will be represented on this year's special jumping team and will include Steamboat's Clint Jones and Tommy Schwall, who are veterans of the 2002 Games in Park City.

They will be joined by Alaska's Alan Alborn, who also spent several years in Steamboat training and has been the top American jumper in the World Cup this season. Alborn finished ninth in the normal hill event in Salt Lake City and 34th in the large hill competition.

The American squad will be completed by a couple of promising young jumpers who will be getting their first tastes of Olympic competition. Anders Johnson is from Park City, Utah, and Jim Denney is from Duluth, Minn.

"This team includes top international skiers -- Todd's won a half dozen World Cup events, Johnny's a former world champion, Billy is a World Cup winner, and Alan holds the U.S. distance mark in jumping," said Luke Bodensteiner, U.S. Nordic director. "And now we've added some young skiers into this team who are extremely driven to make their contribution in Torino. This is an exciting mix."

The U.S. Championships for Nordic combined and jumping Jan 20 and 21 in Steamboat Springs as part of the USSA's10 weeks to Torino series of major pre-Olympic competitions.

The U.S. Team will name the Olympic cross-country ski team today, the snowboard team will be announced Jan. 21 and the Alpine and freestyle teams will be announced Jan. 25.

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

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