SOLDIER HOLLOW, UT (Dec. 14) – Four-time Olympian Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) made it two wins in a row to open the FIS Nordic Combined Continental Cup season Sunday at Soldier Hollow. Lodwick won over countryman Brett Camerota (Park City, UT). Defending Continental Cup champion Marco Pichlmayer of Austria was third.
An 87.0 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 1.3K Soldier Hollow circuit before he was in contention for the lead, making his pass on the second lap and never looking back.
It was a much tougher battle behind Lodwick than a day earlier. Camerota and U.S. Ski Team teammates Bryan Fletcher and Alex Miller (both Steamboat Springs, CO) 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 Head 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 warm-up,” he said in the finish. “Today I had to earn it.”
Lodwick was also thankful for the support and the fact 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.”
Austria's Pichlmayer came away pleased with the weekend's results, finishing third Sunday after a fourth place spot a day earlier. “A week ago I was in Trondheim [Norway, with the World Cup] at sea level, and now I'm up here almost 2,000 meters higher. So it was tough but I'm happy with this weekend.
“I'm the defending champion and I know it's not so easy to continue but I had a good chance today. Todd was really fast so it was hard to follow him.”
Tricky winds forced the FIS to restart Sunday's morning jump after 14 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 every 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, following the morning jump. “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, BC for a pair of midweek events on the 2010 Olympic venue.
FIS NORDIC COMBINED CONTINENTAL CUP
Soldier Hollow, UT
Sun. Dec. 14, 2008
(jump/XC rank, distance back)
1. Todd Lodwick, Steamboat Springs, CO, (18/2) 29:59.3
2. Brett Camerota, Park City, UT, (13/3) 00:18.6 back
3. Marco Pichlmayer, Austria, (4/7) 00:31.0
4. Matthias Menz, Germany, (10/6) 00:46.6
5. Bryan Fletcher, Steamboat Springs, CO, (13/8) 00:56.8