A six-week absence from the World Cup tour doesn't seem to have hurt Steamboat Springs skier Todd Lodwick.
On Sunday, he finished second in a 15-kilometer Nordic combined race in Seefeld, Aus--tria. He also finished third in a 7.5-kilometer sprint event Saturday after missing nine st--r--aight World Cup competitions.
"I would like to say we had it in the plan," said Tom Steitz, who has been coaching Lodwick for the past two seasons.
The coach said he wasn't surprised by Lodwick's finishes in Austria and said he expected it after the U.S. Special Jumping and Nordic Com--bined Championships, which were held in Steamboat on Jan. 21 and 22.
"It's great for Todd because he knows what we did here worked," Steitz said.
Steitz said the only downside is that Lodwick will not be able to escape the pressure that comes with being one of the favorites at the Olympics.
"After nationals, we had a conversation, and I told him that I didn't want him to go back (to the World Cup)," Steitz said. "I knew he was going to get on the podium, and then after six weeks of hiding out, he would come out of nowhere to be a medal contender."
Still, the coach was happy Lodwick was able to ski with Hannu Manninen for part of the race. The World Cup leader, who was sixth after the jumping, skied with the American for most of the race before pulling away midway through the final lap en route to his 11th World Cup victory of the season.
"It's great that Todd was able to ski with Hannu," Steitz said. "Nobody has been able to do that this season."
Lodwick was second after the jumping and posted the 14th fastest cross-country time. Austrian Christoph Bieler, who led the jumping, finished third.