OBERHOF, Germany (Dec. 27) – In an incredible return to the World Cup, Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) took second place Saturday in Oberhof as he competed in his first World Cup in three years. Fellow U.S. athlete Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) was fifth.
“Let’s just say it was a fairytale. It’s hard not to be happy. This has been a long road back in a short amount of time. I have never trained so hard in my entire career to come back,” Lodwick said. “My expectations were to come in here and be top 15, and this is a huge leap forward. I wouldn’t say I didn’t think it was possible, but I definitely didn’t expect it.”
Norway’s Magnus Moan won the event and Anssi Koivuranta of Finland was third.
Lodwick, who jumped fifth and finished third in the cross country portion of the competition to land just three-tenths out of first place, last competed in March of 2006 on the World Cup.
“Todd’s comeback is real. He had a great jump, which put him in a good position, and then he skied a great race,” Nordic Combined Coach Chris Gilbertson said. “He was one of the top athletes before he left and then he came back. Did we expect a second place in his first World Cup back? No. I’d be lying if I said we did, but we knew his level was right up there.”
According to Lodwick, though, Saturday’s result doesn’t change his main focus for the season.
“The ultimate goal is World Championships and this is a steppingstone. That’s the whole reason I came back. World Cup victories are nice, and being on the podium is great, but my main goal is to win a World Championship,” Lodwick said. “This result is not going to change anything. I know that I have a plan.”
Demong couldn’t be happier to have Lodwick back on board and competing at a World Cup level.
“I’m pretty proud of Todd. That’s a sweet way to come back,” Demong said. “He’s got a lot of people looking at him like he’s crazy, but he did a really good job.”
Demong was 22nd after the jumping round and finished second in cross country to land in fifth place overall.
“Conditions were a little bit back and forth, but it was a pretty decent competition. There’s always a little bit of luck involved. Last weekend I was on the right side of it. This weekend I wouldn’t say I was on the wrong side of it, but I could have had a little better conditions,” Demong said. “Regardless, it was a good day and I was satisfied with my jump and we skied a really good race.”
Teammate Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs, CO) would have also likely finished in the top five of the cross country race, but was disqualified for not wearing transponders, which are a timing device the athletes are required to wear when they race.
“Both of us skied really strong and I think he would have had the third fastest time if he hadn’t been disqualified,” Demong said.
The Team will have another chance to get three in the top 10 on Sunday as they compete again in Oberhof.