Todd Lodwick celebrates after landing one of the longest jumps in Sunday's Nordic combined normal hill event at Whistler Olympic Park. Lodwick is second heading into the cross-country portion of the event.

Photo by John F. Russell

Todd Lodwick celebrates after landing one of the longest jumps in Sunday's Nordic combined normal hill event at Whistler Olympic Park. Lodwick is second heading into the cross-country portion of the event.

Lodwick, Spillane in the medal hunt

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Steamboat Springs Nordic combined skier Todd Lodwick takes flight Sunday at Whistler Olympic Park. Lodwick finished second in the jumping portion of Sunday's normal hill Nordic combined event, and teammate Johnny Spillane was fourth. The 10-kilometer cross-country race is scheduled for this afternoon.

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Steamboat Springs' Johnny Spillane jumps Sunday morning in the Normal Hill Individual Gundersen event at Whistler Olympic Park in British Columbia. Spillane, who spent the week getting used to new skis, had one of his best jumps and is currently sitting in fourth place headed into this afternoon's 10K cross-country race.

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Steamboat's Todd Lodwick shares a moment with his daughter Charley after posting one of the longest rjumps during Sunday's Normal Hill Individual Gundersen event at Whistler Olympic Park in British Columbia.

— U.S. Nordic combined skiers and Steamboat Srings residents Todd Lodwick and Johnny Spillane did everything they could to put themselves in medal contention in the jumping portion of Sunday’s Normal Hill Individual Gunderson event at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Whistler, British Columbia.

Lodwick sits in second going into this afternoon’s 10-kilometer race. He’ll start 34 seconds behind Finland’s Janne Ryynaenen.

Spillane is in fourth, 44 seconds behind; Brett Camerota is tied for 10th, 56 seconds behind; and Billy Demong is 24th, 1:20 behind.

“It’s kind of been a roller coaster of broken skis and anxious moments,” Lodwick said after his jump of 101.5 meters. “But I think it proves that we as a team and athletes — we’ve been here before. It’s not something to stress out about. It is what it is.

“It’s nothing I can control. Go out and do my best and as long as we do that like we’ve been doing all year, then as you can see by the leader board, results will follow.”

The Americans are looking to win the country’s first ever medal in Nordic combined. The sport is one of just two Olympic disciplines in which the United States has never won a medal.

The jumping conditions Sunday were difficult, with swirling winds at the top. The Americans, however, were able to find the right combination to come away with two legitimate medal contenders in Lodwick and Spillane.

“If I get up to (Todd) we’ll work together for sure,” Spillane said about the cross-country portion this afternoon.

Demong said he was unhappy with his jump but couldn’t pinpoint a reason for his lower score. Still, when gazing at the leader board after his jump, Demong couldn’t help but smile, seeing three of his teammates in the top 10.

“He will get caught, I believe,” Demong said of Ryynaenen. “It will be the race of his life to not get caught. He will get caught and still fight. It’ll be exciting for sure.”

The weather held up for the most part in the jumping portion, despite winds near the top of the jump.

But as soon as the jumping portion was over, the rain began — and still is — falling heavily.

It should make for an interesting race, where the right wax combination will be at a premium.

“We’re ready for it,” Camerota said. “This is our fourth time up here. We’re ready for anything, especially on comp day.”

The cross-country portion begins at 2:45 p.m. MST and is expected to be covered live on NBC.

Today's event is the first Nordic combined competition of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. For complete Olympics coverage, visit Steamboatpilot.com/Olympics.

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