At 34, Todd Lodwick may be the old man of the U.S. nordic combined squad. But he hasn’t lost a step.
In his first World Cup event of the season, in Ramsau, Austria on Saturday, he started off with a bang by finishing fourth, just a tenth of a second off the podium.
“I’m happy to be up there where I was,” Lodwick said in a press release after the race.
Lodwick, who started 16 seconds behind the leaders after the jumps, moved quickly on the course, and in the end maintained the fourth-place position he held at the start of the cross-country. However, he was only narrowly shut out of the podium, with mere seconds separating the top finishers overall.
“It was a typical comp, where a lot of different factors play into the results. My objective today was to go out and ski my own race and see what the speed was on the World Cup,” said Lodwick.
Local favorite Mario Stecher (AUT), who was sixth after the jumping, made up 29 seconds on the course and won narrowly over Germany’s Bjoern Kircheisen. Lodwick was part of a pack that was going back and forth for the lead throughout the race, and he was in a good position coming into the final kilometer. Lodwick nearly beat Johannes Rydzek (GER), but was short by 0.1 seconds at the finish line.
Jason Lamy-Chappuis (FRA) was fifth, a full second behind Lodwick.
“It was bad tactics on my part to head into the finish stretch in fourth, but I’m still happy with my result,” Lodwick said.
Fletcher content in 23rd
Bryan Fletcher, who was 32nd after the jumping and started 1:29 behind, skied as fast as any on the tough course and finished in 27:06.9 to a strong 23rd place overall. Fletcher’s goal for the season is to establish himself solidly in the top 30, and so far he is delivering to his promise. Conditions taken into account, Bryan Fletcher is satisfied with the race and his results.
“I am happy with my result. I felt I had a much better race than the last two weekends. Today was a bit windy, just like predicted. I didn’t have as good of a comp jump as my trial jump. However just like I thought, it was a tight race, and even with a little bit worse jump I was only a minute and 29 seconds out of the lead. I was right in the pack of skiers, and knew I could move up into the points from where I was,” Bryan Fletcher told FasterSkier.
“Tomorrow I will go out with the same mentality and try to repeat my performance today, with hopefully a little better jumping,” Fletcher said.
Decent all around
US Nordic Combined Coach Dave Jarrett is also satisfied with the crew and its performances.
“Todd and Bryan did their jobs on the hill, although Bryan has been better in training than his comp jump today. But both guys skied well, and we are happy with the race,” Jarrett told FasterSkier.
Changing winds, starting gates and jury decisions made for a challenging day for both coaches and athletes, and Jarrett added that the younger racers also delivered solid performances.
“Taylor [Fletcher] and Nick [Hendrickson] both had better races [Saturday], but were at the wrong part of the start list and became victims of the wind gods and the jury. Nick’s trial jumps was good and he knows he can do it on the World Cip. We will keep working and are looking forward to tomorrow,” Jarrett said.
Taylor Fletcher moved up to 42nd place after jumping in 59th, and Hendrickson also moved up handily, from 60th to 47th, and Eric Camerota was 59th overall. Complete results here.
Inge is FasterSkier's international reporter, born and bred in Norway. A cross-country ski racer and mountain runner, she also dabbles on two wheels in the offseason. If it's steep and long, she loves it. Follow her on Twitter: @IngeScheve.