Monday, December 29, 2008
Some fresh snow and a sunny afternoon made for a postcard-perfect day in Steamboat Springs. Steamboat's great day wasn't limited to the city limits, however.
Thousands of miles away, Steamboat enjoyed one of its best days ever as Todd Lodwick led a trio of local skiers in a dominating performance in a World Cup Nordic combined competition Sunday in Oberhof, Germany.
Lodwick was second, ahead of Bill Demong in eighth and Johnny Spillane in 10th. It marked the first time since 2001 the United States placed three men in the top 10 of a World Cup event.
Lodwick and Spillane hail from Steamboat. Demong trained with the Steamboat Springs Winter Sports Club for years.
"We're happy, and we're vindicated," Nordic Combined Coach Chris Gilbertson said in a news release. "The jumping is getting better and it's nice to know that the confidence for those guys is there."
For the second time in as many days, Lodwick finished second in his incredible comeback to World Cup Nordic combined competition.
The last time the U.S. had three men in a Nordic combined top 10 was Dec. 16, 2001, when Lodwick, Demong and Matt Dayton accomplished it.
"This is really a historic weekend for the U.S. Team. It's a big step," Lodwick said. "It's kind of hard not to feel good. It's a fairytale come true."
Lodwick finished second in the jumping portion of the event and had the lead against Anssi Koivuranta at the midway point, but the Finn took it back a few kilometers later to win the competition.
"It was definitely a hard cross-country race today. They groomed the course and it was boot-deep sugar. But, that's the way it is and we had to deal with it and make due with what we had," Lodwick said. "I am surprised with my jumping. My confidence start-
ed in Vancouver with my Continental Cup jumping. Coming to Oberhof was kind of like an old habit. I've been down the in-run, I've skied here a bunch of times. I wasn't nervous about the conditions at all."
Demong finished 28th in the jumping round and second in the cross-country race to end up eighth overall. Spillane was 25th in jumping and third in cross-country for a 10th-place finish.
Although the team still is focused on the World Cup season ahead, it has the World Championships set in its sights, and perhaps the possibility of contending, not only in the individual event, but the team event, too.
"It's our goal. When Todd told us he wanted to come back, that made a team medal possible, but we still need a fourth guy up there," Gilbertson said.
For now, it's on to the next World Cup in Schonach, Germany, from Jan. 3 to 4.
"They're strong guys, and they're getting ready for Schonach next weekend," Gilbertson said. 'We're going to keep building on the momentum and surging. It's just so nice to be on the positive side."