Saturday, January 21, 2006
Steamboat Springs Jumpers from across the United States converged here Saturday hoping to take home a national ski jumping title in the shadows of historic Howelsen Hill.
But three hometown boys weren't about to let the title go anywhere else.
Defending champion Todd Lodwick led both rounds of jumping en route to his 16th national title on the HS-127 hill at Howelsen. He was followed by Clint Jones in second and Tommy Schwall in third.
"It's nice to have home-grown guys on the podium," Lodwick said. "We all grew up on the same block ... and it's cool to have Steamboat skiers winning nationals every year -- especially when it's here."
Jones topped Lodwick in the trial round but not when it counted.
Lodwick jumped 121 meters on his first effort and then backed it up with a 120.5-meter jump in the second round. He finished with 257.3 points.
"Todd's been the guy to beat the last few years," Jones said.
"He's been taking a break from the World Cup and has been back here with his family and training on these hills.
"He appears to be a little bit more relaxed, and he's got these hills dialed even more than normal. He's making things hard on the rest of us."
Jones was able to keep things close Saturday morning by posting jumps of 117.5 and 119.5 meters. The distances helped the U.S. Ski Team member finish in second place with 247.7 points. Schwall, who also grew up in Steamboat, pushed the leaders by combining jumps of 115 and 116.5 meters to finish in third with 235.3 points.
"You always have to reach deep when Clint's around," Lodwick said. "He's definitely someone that scares me.
"All three of us are capable of winning this competition, and I've just been fortunate enough to win it three years in a row."
Steamboat Springs' Johnny Spillane sat out Friday's events hoping to recover from several injuries that have kept him on the sideline this season. Also missing was top American special jumper Alan Alborn. He was in Japan competing in World Cup events.
Other notable Steamboat finishers included Davis Miller in eighth, Logan Gerber in 12th and Alex Miller in 16th. The Canadian team's Trevor Morrice placed fifth, and Mackenzie Boyd-Clowes placed ninth. Those scores only counted in a special guest class.
Lodwick elected to sit out of the Merrill Cup, a longest standing jump competition that followed the HS-127 event, but Steamboat also claimed that trophy.
Jones flew 123.5 meters in the special event to edge out Canadian Trevor Morrice who finished at 120.5.
Saturday's competition on the large hill was the first of three national title events this weekend in Steamboat.
Lodwick and fourth-place finisher Bill Demong returned to Howelsen Hill in the afternoon for the second half of the Nordic combined competition. The first jump of Saturday's K-114 event was used to seed that race.
The final event of the weekend will take place on Steamboat's HS-100 jump. The trial round will begin at 9 a.m. today followed by the first official round at 10 a.m. The final round is scheduled to start at 11 a.m. and will be followed by a longest standing jump competition for juniors.
All three jumpers on the podium Saturday are headed to Italy next month to compete in the Turin Olympic Games. Lodwick will represent the U.S. Nordic combined team for the fourth time. Jones and Schwall will compete in the special jumping events in their second Olympic appearances.
-- To reach John F. Russell, call 871-4209 or e-mail email@example.com