Into the next phase

Steamboat's Todd Lodwick, who recently retired as America's best Nordic combined skier, is busier than ever

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He has traveled around the world for 13 years, but one of the most difficult journeys Todd Lodwick takes these days is just a short drive from his downtown home.

The new father admits that dropping off his 5-month-old daughter, Charley, is more difficult than it was to climb aboard a plane when he wasn't jumping well for a long World Cup trip through Eastern Europe.

"I just dread dropping her off for the day," said Todd, who recently retired from the U.S. Nordic combined team. "She's a miracle, and I want to spend as much time as possible with her. There just isn't enough time in the day."

Even though Todd's Nordic combined career ended in March after his final World Cup competition in Oslo, Norway, the Steamboat Springs native is as busy as ever.

"The job opportunities came up fast," he said. "I was hoping to put it off until July. I really wanted to take some time off to spend with my family and take care of those chores around the house. But a great opportunity came up, and I just couldn't pass it up."

These days, Lodwick is a junior broker at Marabou, Jeff Temple's new land preservation subdivision on Routt County Road 42 west of town.

"I think it's a really good fit for me," Lodwick said. "I've spent most of my life outdoors, and I don't think I'm ready to sit behind a desk inside for eight hours a day."

Lodwick, who had always planned to go into real estate when he stopped skiing, thinks that the opportunity at Marabou will allow him to make a living in Steamboat and do all the things that make living here so great. He recently bought a road bike and already has taken part in several cross-country ski races.

Todd's wife, Sunny, is an associate who started working with local dentist Terrance Riley in August after graduating from the University of Colorado's School of Dentistry.

Sunny is a native of Jackson Hole, Wyo. However, she lived in Steamboat Springs for several years and is a graduate of the Lowell Whiteman School. She is an alumna of the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club, where she was an Alpine ski racer.

After high school she attended the University of New Mexico for two years before an injury ended her competitive skiing career. She returned home after the injury and finished her undergraduate work at the University of Wyoming. She met Todd before the 1994 Olympic Games in Lillehammer, Norway. The couple started dating several years later and eventually married.

Sunny said Todd's retirement from the World Cup circuit isn't what many expected.

"People ask me what it's like having him home all the time," Sunny says. "But I swear that I see him less now than I did before.

"It has been a huge adjustment. Before, when he wasn't skiing or at a training camp, he would always be at home."

A big part of the adjustment is being new parents.

Between feedings, day care and the time they get to spend together as a family, Todd is finishing up an ambitious remodeling project on the family's home. It consumes a lot of his free time.

"Now that I took the job with Marabou, I've stepped into the corporate world," Lodwick said. "It was a huge change. I don't have as much time to spend around the house, and there is never enough time to spend with Charley."

But Sunny thinks the step into the real world is one Todd was ready to make.

"The other day, Billy (Demong) stopped by and was talking about the summer season, about the training camps and about the trips to Europe," Sunny said. "When he left I asked Todd if he missed it, if he was sad that he stopped skiing.

"He told me that he is so happy right now."

The fact is the greatest Nordic combined skier in U.S. history is comfortable with his decision and with the legacy he leaves behind.

It's a legacy that can be traced to Lodwick's first victory at an Intercontinental Cup meet that opened the 1994 Olympic season. Once he got a taste for international competition, Lodwick never slowed down. He competed in more than 148 international competitions and has finished on the World Cup podium more than any American skier before him.

His six World Cup victories, including two in 1998, remain an American record, and he also topped the German Grand Prix standings in 2004. He finished on the podium 24 times from 1996 to 2006 and finished his career with 17 U.S. national titles -- nine in Nordic combined and eight in special jumping.

Lodwick's first World Cup victory, and one of his most memorable wins, came in Steamboat Springs in 1996. He repeated the feat of winning in front of the hometown crowd in 2001 as well, and one of his wins in 1998 came in Oslo -- the heart of Nordic combined skiing.

He also set the Olympic standard for the U.S. by making four trips -- Lillehammer in 1994; Nagano, Japan, in 1998; Salt Lake City in 2002; and Turin, Italy, in 2006.

His fifth-place finish in the individual sprint event in Salt Lake City in 2002 is the best for an American skier at the Olympics, and his drive also helped the Americans post a fourth-place team finish, the closest he would come to a medal.

He had high expectations headed into the 2006 Games. But his dream of winning an Olympic medal fell short. Lodwick placed ninth in the individual and 10th in the sprint event. His frustrations spilled over in the team event, when he thought teammate Carl Van Loan was the wrong choice to complete an American team that also included Johnny Spillane and Demong.

After calling his teammate out after the team event, Lodwick quickly apologized for taking his comments to the media instead of at a team meeting. However, he never backed down from his belief that Brett Camerota had earned the fourth and final spot and should have been on the team.

Lodwick said he considers Van Loan a friend despite the Olympic friction and said the two athletes left their bad feelings in Pragelato. Lodwick said he remains friends with many of the current members of the U.S. Nordic combined team, including Spillane and Demong.

Todd thinks his former teammates will find success on the ski jumps in the upcoming seasons and says he will remain one of the team's biggest fans.

"I hope that those young skiers will look at the marks I set and make it their goal to beat me," Todd said. "I've always appreciated the result. It didn't matter if I was the one that got it or if it was one of my teammates. It doesn't matter just as long as we beat the Europeans."

For now, it appears that Todd is content to slide into a more relaxed lifestyle that will be focused on his family, a promising career and enjoying Steamboat's active lifestyle.

He said he still visits the gym several days a week but admits that his training has dropped off since he stopped skiing.

"I think when I look back in a few years I'm going to be jealous of my old self," Lodwick said. "I still work out, but it takes a lot to maintain that level of fitness. I'm sure that I will look back and wish that I could still be in that good of shape."

Although the training wasn't always fun, the payoff was.

"Skiing was a life of luxury," he said. "It gave me the freedom to experience things that most people will never get to do."

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