In 20 years of competing internationally, Todd Lodwick never had anything like this happen to him.
The risk was inherently always there, hitting the big jumps at speeds around 90 kilometers per hour, but the U.S. Nordic Combined veteran had essentially been lucky — and he still was despite crashing hard in a provisional jump on Jan. 10 at the World Cup in Chaux-Neuve, France.
The 37-year-old from Steamboat Springs, Colo., didn’t hit his head and remained conscious throughout, feeling no pain initially but realizing something was very wrong after hearing a crack and sliding down to the bottom, where he did a “10-point check” of his body. There, he discovered he couldn’t move his left arm high above his head.
First responders put the dislocated shoulder back into place, and that’s when the pain set in.
“I was kind of numb,” Lodwick said on the phone while icing his shoulder between training sessions on Tuesday. “Your mind goes in a million directions.”
The medical attention he received was “brilliant,” Lodwick said. “[They] made sure I got the best care possible.”
Understanding he wasn’t going to compete the next day and needed to get his shoulder fully evaluated, Lodwick flew out Saturday morning to the U.S. Ski Team’s headquarters in Park City, Utah. He received an MRI that night, which revealed he had strained tendons and muscles as well as dislocated his left shoulder.
He was instructed to immobilize it for 2 1/2 weeks — four weeks before the 2014 Winter Olympics kick off in Sochi, Russia.
“It’s bad timing, but I feel very much in good hands with the staff and friends and family and support here in Park City and at home,” Lodwick said.
After hiking on the treadmill on Monday, he did intervals Tuesday morning and planned to train that afternoon.
“I’m just excited for each day to come and for the training to commence,” he said of resuming his pre-Olympic regimen.
While he was disappointed to miss out on this weekend’s World Cup in Seefeld, Austria, Lodwick said he was “taking it day by day” and listening his doctors’ recommendations. That will also dictate when he heads back overseas.
Fortunately, he said he’s not on major pain medication and is able to sleep through the night. And he can have piece of mind, knowing he prequalified for his sixth Olympics — the most of any American Winter Olympian — after winning the U.S. Nordic Combined Olympic Trials on Dec. 28 in Park City.
He described the incident as “one of those fluky things that happens in ski jumping,” adding that it won’t affect his confidence on the hill.
“I’m a veteran of the sport, and like I said, it’s the first time I’ve ever had an accident like this,” Lodwick said. “I know what it takes to get myself back in shape and hopefully back from this injury. … I’ve kind of got the reputation of the indestructible man.”
Pointing to the strength of the U.S. team, Lodwick added, “I have every intention of being part of that team. It’s going to be a privilege to walk in the Opening Ceremony, should I have the chance.”
“We have every intention of him competing in Sochi,” U.S. Head Coach Dave Jarrett wrote in an email.
“I’m a firm believer that things happen in life for a reason,” Lodwick explained. “How the cookie crumbles, we’re going to move forward with every intention to go to the Olympic Games.”
Alex Kochon (firstname.lastname@example.org) is the former managing editor at FasterSkier. She spent seven years with FS from 2011-2018, and has been writing, editing, and skiing ever since. She's making a cameo in 2020.