Steamboat Springs U.S. Nordic combined skier Todd Lodwick returned to action Saturday and led a strong American finish at a Continental Cup meet in Park City, Utah.
“These are my first competitions of the season, and I’m really psyched that I was able to win,” Lodwick said after winning the first of two individual events. “I’m jumping really well, and my confidence is growing all the time.”
The U.S. Ski Team veteran and two-time World Champion led Saturday’s jumping round and then raced to victory on the 10-kilometer ski course at Soldier Hollow.
“It was one of the hardest 10-kilometer cross-country courses I’ve ever raced,” Lodwick said. “There was about four minutes of climbing and 20 seconds of downhill each lap — and there were seven laps.”
Thanks to a strong jumping round, Lodwick was the first out on the course in Saturday’s event. He was followed by Austria’s Johannes Weiss, who was second after the jumping, and a pair of athletes from Japan.
Lodwick also looked strong in the cross-country portion of the event and crossed the finish line of the 10-kilometer race in 34 minutes, 29.5 seconds. Austrian skier Tomaz Druml raced from eighth place after the jumping portion to finish in second at 35:13.9, and Germany’s Steffen Tepel was third at 36:38.5.
Lodwick’s finish highlighted the day, but he wasn’t the only American who turned in a solid performance.
Fellow Steamboat Springs skier Alex Miller placed fourth, and Taylor Fletcher placed ninth.
Park City’s Eric Camerota raced to an 11th-place finish to round out the Americans who finished in the top 20.
Other American finishers included Carl Van Loan in 21st, Willy Graves in 30th, Nick Hendrickson in 31st and Alex Glueck in 37th. Cliff Field (41), Michael Ward (43rd), Brett Denney (46th) and Erik Lynch (49th) also competed in the event.
Because of an expected storm, the jumping portion for a second Continental Cup scheduled for today also was held Saturday. Lodwick is leading after the jumping portion of that event. The cross-country portion still is scheduled to take place today.
The Continental Cup is a series of Nordic combined events that are one step below the World Cup, which is taking place in Europe. Lodwick, who wanted to stay a little closer to his family during the early part of this season, is using the Park City events to prepare for his return to the World Cup. He is expected to compete Dec. 18 to 20 at World Cup events in Ramsau am Dachstein, Austria.
Steamboat’s Schaffrick places 6th in Grand Prix
Steamboat Springs snowboarder Maddy Schaffrick finished sixth at the Sprint U.S. Snowboarding Grand Prix on Saturday at Copper Mountain. The halfpipe competition was the first of five Olympic qualifying events.
Schaffrick’s score in the finals was 35.5, nine points behind winner Kelly Clark.
But considering the field — where several nations also are using the Grand Prix as their Olympic qualifier — Schaffrick said she was pleased with her finish.
“I was. Well, it’s a good standing,” she said. “I didn’t land my run as cleanly as I hoped to. I was a little disappointed in that.”
Even more appealing for Schaffrick, 15, is that she was the fourth American finisher. The U.S. Olympic team will be decided on competitors’ two best finishes at Grand Prix events. The team could take as many as five snowboarders to the Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, B.C.
Schaffrick, who last season was amazed when she made the finals of a Grand Prix as a 14-year-old, now sounds like a veteran.
Although she was pleased with her result, she knows she can do better.
“I know I have the skills to do good,” she said. “It’s just whether or not I can land them and pull them out at the right time. I guess I expect it for myself now that I know I can do it.”
Gretchen Bleiler, of Aspen, finished second Saturday, and Japan’s Soko Yamaoka was third.
Also Saturday, Steamboat’s Arielle Gold won the Xbox Jr. Jam.
The next Grand Prix takes place Jan. 6 to 10 at Mammoth Mountain in California.