Steamboat Springs skier Todd Lodwick, shown here training near Strawberry Park this summer, returns to World Cup competition this week. Lodwick retired from competitive skiing and jumping two years ago but launched his comeback this year.
Friday, December 26, 2008
After winning three out of four Continental Cup meets in December, Steamboat Springs skier Todd Lodwick hopes to stay hot as he heads to Europe and his return to the Nordic Combined World Cup.
Lodwick, who retired after the 2006 World Cup season, announced his intention to return to the U.S. Ski Team and international competition last summer. Since then, he has been training hard in Steamboat Springs and making the most of his opportunities to post top finishes at lower-level events.
"This is something that I've worked very hard for," Lodwick said this week. "When I announced that I was coming back, I wasn't looking for a free ride. I wanted to earn it."
Lodwick said the U.S. Team has been happy to accommodate him. Coaches have helped him get up to speed with training and allowed him to take part in team camps in the off season.
But when it came to earning his spot on the Continental Cup this month - and a return to the World Cup - the veteran skier has been on his own.
"My results in Park City and Vancouver were the first step," he said about his Continental Cup (which was formerly known as the World Cup B) showings. The events normally are a place for upcoming Nordic combined skiers to gain experience, and the standing needed to move up to the more competitive World Cup tour.
Lodwick's two first-place finishes in Park City, Utah, and another at the site of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games near Vancouver, B.C., was more than enough to earn the four-time Olympian an invitation to move up to the World Cup circuit. Lodwick left Tuesday for two events in Oberhof, Germany. He also will compete in Schonach, Germany, in the coming week.
"I'm excited to get there, and I'm excited to compete," Lodwick said.
When asked whether he was nervous about his return to the top level of competition in his sport, Lodwick was quick with his reply.
"Of course I am," he said. "I have high expectations for myself, and there is always a fear that you might not live up to those expectations."
But Lodwick also feels as though he is prepared to succeed in his return. He's been training since May and is confident that he will continue to be competitive this weekend against the best skiers in the world.
"Nothing is easy," Lodwick said. "This has been the hardest summer I've ever had, but I'm confident that all the hard work will pay off."
He also understands that his return will come with plenty of expectations - none of which are higher than his own.
"My goal is to finish in the top 15," Lodwick said. "That might be a little lofty for my first event back, but like I said, I've set the bar pretty high."
Dave Jarrett, head coach of the U.S. Nordic Combined team, said he wasn't surprised by Lodwick's success this month on the Continental Cup.
"We expected it. We didn't expect the last result (his second-place finish in Vancouver), but that was the sixth race in eight days for our boys, and they were all tired. I know Todd is fired up and ready to see where he fits into the World Cup ranks now. I have no doubt he will be at the top with Billy (Demong) and Johnny (Spillane) shortly."
The U.S. Nordic Combined team is coming off of a strong month on the World Cup and the Continental Cup. Demong's first- and second-place finishes in Austria highlighted the results for the Americans. Demong also had a fourth, and Spillane had a 13th in Trondheim, Norway. Demong now is third in the overall standings.
Lodwick was the top American skier on the Continental Cup. However, Brett Camerota, Bryan Fletcher, Alex Miller and Taylor Fletcher also skied well.
"We are excited about the start of the year and want to keep the momentum rolling. The athletes, coaches and service guys have done a tremendous job preparing and now it's time to enjoy all the hard work," Jarrett said.
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