Photo by John F. Russell
Five-time Olympian Todd Lodwick takes flight July 3 at Howelsen Hill during the Fourth of July Ski Jumping Extravaganza. Lodwick will seek his 20th U.S. National Championship this weekend in either ski jumping or Nordic combined competition.
Wednesday, August 1, 2012
Steamboat Springs In January 1994, Todd Lodwick took to the jumps at Howelsen Hill shortly after being named to his first Olympics team.
The following day, the 17-year-old Lodwick won his first U.S. National Championship.
Some 18 years later, Lodwick still is at it. With the U.S. Ski Jumping and Nordic Combined National Championships up for grabs this weekend in Park City, Utah, Lodwick is on the precipice of dotting another line in the history books.
A win in Saturday’s Nordic Combined Championships or Sunday’s Ski Jumping Championships would mark Lodwick’s 20th national championship.
“Those types of goals, those are marks I put on myself,” Lodwick said. Winning No. 20 “was something I definitely have written down.”
The event begins at 8 a.m. Saturday with Nordic combined jumping. It’s followed at 1 p.m. by a 10-kilometer ski event.
The U.S. Ski Jumping Championships begin at 8 a.m. Sunday.
Lodwick’s decorated career includes 11 Nordic Combined National Championships and eight Special Jumping Championships — five in the large hill event and three in the normal hill event.
In 2004 and 2005, he won all three titles. His last win came in the 2009 Nordic combined event.
“You never forget your first,” Lodwick said. “Would this one be any more sweeter? We’ll see. You never can tell. We’re always pushing each other. I have high expectations for myself, or I wouldn’t be doing this sport.”
Although the weekend serves as the National Championships, the competition also is a time for the entire U.S. ski jumping community to come together. It will feature top-tier athletes like Lodwick as well as younger Nordic skiers and jumpers set for another season on the Continental Cup or simply trying to get to that level.
“I remember when I was that age, being around national guys was just awesome,” said Steamboat’s Erik Lynch, who will compete on the Continental Cup this year but won’t compete this weekend because of a right wrist injury. “I ate up every piece of advice they give. This gives you insight on your own issues with what you say to the younger kids.”
Lodwick should be considered an early favorite. At a training camp in Sochi, Russia, to check out the 2014 Olympic venue last month, Lodwick won an event and was second in the other at the Summer Grand Prix.
Billy Demong, Johnny Spillane, Bryan Fletcher and Taylor Fletcher should be in position to give Lodwick some stiff competition for the titles. Demong is the defending Nordic combined champion.
“The young kids come out of the woodwork to win gold,” Lodwick said. “It keeps us going. It keeps me going. It’s good to know all these years of of hard work will hopefully pay off in 18 months. It’s all part of the process in getting to Sochi.”
To reach Luke Graham, call 970-871-4229 or email lgraham@SteamboatToday.com