Former Olympian takes big strides in comeback effort |

Former Olympian takes big strides in comeback effort

U.S. Ski Team

Four-time Olympian Todd Lodwick made two wins in a row to open the FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup season Sunday at Soldier Hollow, Utah.

The victorious weekend was a big step toward Lodwick’s goal of getting back on the World Cup circuit.

“This was my first competition back on the international stage since I retired, so it went really, really well,” Lodwick said.

Lodwick won against countryman Brett Camerota, of Park City, Utah. Defending Continental Cup champion Marco Pichlmayer, of Austria, was third.

Steamboat also was represented by Bryan Fletcher in fifth place, Alex Miller in sixth, Brett Denney in 28th and Davis Miller in 36th.

“I’m not only happy for my success, but for the ski team’s success,” Lodwick said. “We had a lot of boys from Steamboat that did well.”

An 87-meter jump put Lodwick further back at the start than the opening competition on Saturday, starting a minute behind jump leader Dominik Dier, of Austria, and 30 seconds behind Pichlmayer. But it took only one lap around the 1.3-kilometer Soldier Hollow circuit before he was in contention for the lead, making his pass on the second lap and never looking back.

“My expectations have always been high, but I think I’m probably in better shape now that I was in my last couple years of skiing,” he said. “The hard work definitely paid off this weekend. It’s been a long road back, but this weekend, I proved I’m still one of the top in the world.”

It was a much tougher battle behind Lodwick than a day earlier. Camerota and U.S. Ski Team teammates Fletcher and Miller fought with Pichlmayer most of the race before Camerota settled into second and the Austrian champion into third. Fletcher, third on Saturday, finished fifth, with Miller having a sensational day in sixth.

“Four in the top six, not a bad day,” said U.S. Ski Team Coach Dave Jarrett. “Alex Miller had a great race today. He’s been a strong jumper, and we’ve been working on his cross country. This should give him a lot of confidence.”

Lodwick felt tested on Sunday and was pleased with the outcome. “Today was a cross-country race for me. Yesterday was a warmup,” he said in the finish. “Today I had to earn it.”

Lodwick also was thankful for the support and that both events took place despite challenging weather. “I really have to give credit to the hill crews for getting this event in this weekend,” said Lodwick. “And I’m especially thankful for the support I had from the team, just coming into the group. We have a new wax technician from Italy, Paulo, and Dave, who had to do skis for eight guys. I really have to thank them for their help.”

Tricky winds forced the FIS to restart Sunday’s morning jump after 15 athletes had gone. “You have to stay focused and not let it get to you,” said Camerota. “For sure, Todd, Fletcher and I have been jumping well this week, and we’re skiing fast. It’s a great start for all.

“We’re one of the fastest guys out there (in cross country), but still we want ever meter to make it easier in the cross country.”

“It’s a jumping competition, an outdoor sport, so everyone needs to be prepared for their best,” said Lodwick. “I think some people were a little bit unlucky today. I’m not going to say I was one of them, but I didn’t perform on the jump hill the way I’d like to. But that’s kind of where I’ve been throughout the summer. Just now, it’s starting to get back to normal. There is a lot to do, lot to learn to get back into things. I feel pretty confident the way things have gone and we will see throughout the year.

“This is my first international competition back. Park City is great. It’s the home of the [U.S.] Ski Team and the support here. I know the place, and it’s kind of like a second home. The family is here, and that’s a good thing.”

The team now heads to Whistler, B.C., for a pair of midweek events on the Olympic venue.

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