Skier goes from World Cup to Carhartts
April 1, 2006
These days, four-time Oly-mpian Todd Lodwick’s uniform consists of a pair of Carhartt pants, a paint-splattered sweatshirt and a baseball cap.
It’s a far cry from what American’s best-ever Nordic combined competitor wore throughout his career on the World Cup tour, and it’s much less noticeable than the clothing he donned for the final World Cup appearance of his career March 12.
“No one remembers 10th (place), but I will always remember this,” Lodwick said about his final competition at the world-famous Holmenkollen in the hills near the heart of Oslo, Norway.
The Steamboat Springs nat-ive earned the admiration of Nordic combined fans throughout the world by trading his modern equipment for a wardrobe most of today’s athletes have seen only in photographs.
He wore a knit sweater borrowed from a club in a small Norwegian town that has produced four Holmenkollen champions. It was quite different from the jumping suit designed to help ski jumpers slice through the air.
It also may have been the first and only time Lodwick has worn a tie and dress-down shirt for a jumping competition.
He also turned back the clock by abandoning the V-style jumping technique for a more traditional form in which jumpers kept their hands forward and their skis together.
The changes had nothing to do with moving up in the results. In fact, Lodwick’s salute to his sport’s past had the opposite effect. Regardless, he wanted to create a lasting memory.
The move brought cheers from the more than 15,000 fans who came out to watch the jumping portion of the event, and it kept them in the stands for the race’s cross-county portion.
After 13 seasons and 148 World Cup competitions, it was a fitting moment for the best American Nordic combined skier to ever compete.
“I talked about doing this about a month before the Olympics,” Lodwick said. “I thought it was a fitting way to thank all the fans that have given so much to the sport of Nordic combined.”
It also was an appropriate end for Lodwick, who said his last-place performance was a career highlight. That’s impressive, considering his career included four trips to the Olympics and six World Cup victories.
“I will never forget the Holmenkollen,” Lodwick said. “The jumps are located in the middle of town, and people camp out for the events. Everyone in town comes out and watches. There is no place else like it in the world.”
But Lodwick was quick to add that the jumps at Howelsen Hill, where he picked up his first World Cup victory in 1998, also hold a special place in his heart.
“Steamboat has been a huge part of my career,” Lodwick said. “There was no way I could have accomplished what I did without this town and this community. Without the support I got from Steamboat, I don’t know what I would have done.”
He knows the sport of Nordic combined never will take the place of football, baseball and basketball in most American homes. However, he said the sport allowed him to do things he dreamed of as a child and travel the world.
But less than a month after his final competition, Lodwick already was looking to the next chapter of his life, which explains the Carhartts.
“I’ve got a few projects to finish up around the house,” Lodwick said. “I’ve got to put together all the things that I took apart in the fall.”
Today, Lodwick’s priorities include spending time with his wife, Sunny, who is busy with her own dental practice in Steamboat, and caring for his newborn daughter, Charley.
Lodwick said there is no problem finding things to do now that the World Cup tour is a part of his past, but he’s also discovered how difficult it is to stop competing.
After his final Olympic appearance in Italy in February, the former world class skier has filled his competitive appetite at local events.
He won the 42-kilometer Coureur des Bois in North Routt County last month and said he is looking forward to exploring adult recreational hockey and other sporting opportunities in Steamboat.
But Lodwick also fears he will not feel the full impact of his retirement until later this spring, when he usually would begin training for another season on the World Cup tour.
— To reach John F. Russell, call 871-4209 or e-mail email@example.com