A Steamboat sweep | SteamboatToday.com

A Steamboat sweep

Lodwick, Jones, Spillane take K-90 podium for themselves

Melinda Mawdsley

It’s warm. It’s March. It’s the final weekend of the 2004 season for the country’s best Nordic combined and special jumpers. But this is also Steamboat Springs, and the hometown guys aren’t interested in sharing the podium with anyone else — no matter the conditions or time of year.

Todd Lodwick, Clint Jones and Johnny Spillane swept the podium in the K-90, or short hill, competition to open the 2004 Chevrolet U.S. Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships early Saturday morning.

“It’s pretty strange for others outside Steamboat to get on the podium here,” Jones, 19, said.

Lodwick, a veteran member of the U.S. Nordic Combined Team, won the event with 245 points, jumping 94 meters on his first jump and 91.5 meters on his second jump.

Jones, a member of the U.S. Special Jumping Team, finished second with 239.5 points after jumping 93.5 meters on his first attempt and matching Lodwick with a 91.5-meter jump on his second.

“Clint and I have a really friendly rivalry,” Lodwick said. “We grew up together. We’re friends and buddies even though we don’t see each other that much.”

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Spillane, also a member of the U.S. Nordic Combined Team, finished third overall, jumping 89.5 meters on his first jump and 90 meters on his second to score 228 points.

Eric Camerota of Utah’s Intermountain Division came in fourth, while Steamboat’s Tommy Schwall was fifth.

Expected warm weather prompted event officials to start the first of Saturday’s two competitive short hill jumps at 8 a.m., and while conditions were fine for the first jump — there was minimal wind, and the snow was firm — the rising sun softened the track, and a tailwind made conditions more difficult for the second jump.

The placement of the top three senior men wasn’t a big surprise, considering Lodwick’s consistency all season, Jones’ ability to jump on his home hills and Spillane’s late-season surge on the World Cup circuit.

Lodwick wrapped up the World Cup Nordic combined season in seventh place overall, finishing in the top 15 in 16 different events. Spillane, on the other hand, recovered from an early-season illness and a slow start to finish 20th overall and picked up five top 10 finishes.

“I was really pleased with the way the last period ended,” Spillane said.

The Intermountain Region swept the women’s podium with Lindsay Van taking first with 208.5 points, jumping 83 meters and 88 meters on her Saturday runs down the K-90 hill. Jessica Jerome was second with 190 points, and Alissa Johnson finished third with 167 points.

But Saturday provided an opportunity for the country’s top youths to shine, as well, and none took advantage of the chance more than the Intermountain Region’s Anders Johnson.

The 14-year-old not only won the Ragnar Cup presented to the top jumper younger than 17, but he took eighth overall on the senior side, scoring 205 points on jumps of 88.5 and 82 meters.

In the Ragnar Cup, for which the top 10 jumpers younger than 17 scored one jump, Johnson soared an almost laughable 97.5 meters on the K-90 hill. It appeared, for a moment, as if he would never drop from the sky.

“I knew I was going to land around 97,” Johnson said. “Once you get past the break of the knoll, you can tell.”

Johnson said he was “way excited” about his finish and the way he jumped, considering he had little to look forward to before arriving in Steamboat.

“This was one of my worst seasons ever,” he said. “Now, I’m more motivated.”

The U.S. Jumping and Nordic Combined Championships wrap up today on the K-114 hill. The first of two jumping rounds begins at 8 a.m. at Howelsen Hill. Admission is free to the national championships.