John F. Russell: Todd Lodwick’s comeback is no surprise
Any questions about Todd Lodwick’s comeback are disappearing faster than half-price Wiis at Wal-Mart.
In the past two weeks, Lodwick has won three out of four Continental Cup meets during a North American sweep – including a victory in Vancouver, B.C., at the site of the 2010 Winter Olympics. He also earned a second-place finish in Vancouver.
To some, the veteran Nordic combined skier’s success might come as a bit of a surprise. He’s been away from the game for two years, after retiring following the 2006 Olympics in Italy.
In that time, the sport, his teammates and the rest of the world have moved forward, struggling to keep up with the changes in jumping and training.
When Lodwick announced his comeback last summer, nobody expected the road back to the top of international competition to be easy for the four-time Olympian.
But I would never bet against him.
A few months ago, I caught up with Lodwick during a training session in Strawberry Park. It was clear he was serious about making a comeback and serious about being on the Olympic roster when Canada opens its doors for the Olympic games in February of 2010.
His hard work this summer has paid off with top results the past few weeks, proving that he is determined to get back to where he was when he stepped away from the World Cup tour.
Lodwick is quick to point out that he wasn’t looking for a free ride back to the World Cup. And make no mistake, this isn’t the same skier that retired two years ago.
He seems even more focused and determined – if that’s possible.
The stress of traveling around the world for more than 13 years has been replaced by a confident smile and a new appreciation for his passion. His eyes are hungry, and, for him, the path to his goals is clear.
The hard work already has paid off for Lodwick on the Continental Cup. In the next few months, we all will find out whether he has what it takes to play with the big boys of Nordic combined on the World Cup tour.
Throughout the years, Lodwick has written more than a few chapters in the history of American Nordic combined skiing while supplying Steamboat with plenty of things to cheer about.
Lodwick’s respect for the sport is undeniable – when he retired in 2006, he was dressed in a Norwegian sweater and necktie. He finished dead last, but he still managed to steal the hearts of Nordic combined fans.
I’ve been covering Lodwick since he was a bright-eyed 16-year-old standing on the podium at the U.S. National Championships in Steamboat Springs. I can honestly say, I will not be surprised if Lodwick’s return to the sport ends with a trip to Vancouver. But then, nothing Lodwick has ever done really surprises me.
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