Todd Lodwick is a performer. The five-time U.S. Olympian successfully earned a ticket to his sixth Games with a victory on Saturday at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials in Park City, Utah.
According to USSA, the 37-year-old Lodwick is the first American to make a sixth Olympic team. His first Olympics were nearly 20 years ago at the 1994 Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway.
“It’s a daunting and humbling statement, but I don’t think there was any doubt in my mind, even before this competition, that I was going to make my sixth team as long as I trained hard and competed well,” Lodwick said in a press release.
The U.S. Nordic Combined veteran bested teammate Billy Demong in the jump Saturday morning, and went on to hold his 36-second lead to the finish in the afternoon 10 k at Utah Olympic Park.
“I haven’t been this nervous for a competition for a really long time,” Lodwick said. “I think that is something that I’ve been missing a little on the World Cup tour. Today there was a lot on the line. And to be in front of friends, family and supportive people who have traveled so far to cheer us on as nordic combined skiers and as the legacy of the sport is overwhelming.”
Bryan Fletcher took second, 17.3 seconds after Lodwick, and Demong placed third. Aside from Lodwick, the rest of the U.S. Olympic team will be selected based on World Cup results and named Jan. 22.
NBC will recap Saturday’s nordic-combined trials and live stream the ski-jumping trials on Sunday from 1:30 to 3 p.m. EST.
Several Americans will be contending for a guaranteed Olympic spot on Saturday at the U.S. Nordic Combined Olympic trials in Park City, Utah. The HS-100 jumping competition starts Saturday at 10:15 MST and the two-lap 10 k race will take place at 2 p.m.
After Saturday’s NoCo events, men’s and women’s ski jumping will hold their own Olympic trials on Sunday with NBC live streaming the events (and recapping the nordic-combined trials) from 1:30-3 p.m. EST.
SCHEDULE (via US Ski Team)
All events at Utah Olympic Park
Saturday, Dec. 28 – 2014 U.S. Olympic Trials – Nordic Combined
- Nordic Combined Trial Jump – 9:30 a.m. – 9:45 a.m. MST
- Nordic Combined Competition Jump – 10:15 a.m. – 10:45 a.m. MST
- Nordic Combined 10k (4×2.5k) – 2:00 p.m. – 2:35 p.m. MST
- Nordic Combined Awards Ceremony – 2:45 p.m. – 3:00 p.m. MST
Sunday, Dec. 29 – 2014 U.S. Olympic Trials – Ski Jumping
- Men’s and Women’s Trial Jump – 11:10 a.m. – 11:38 a.m. MST
- Men’s and Women’s Competition Jump 1 – 11:50 a.m. – 12:05 p.m. MST
- Men’s and Women’s Competition Jump 2 – 12:36 p.m. – 12:52 p.m. MST
- Men’s and Women’s Awards Ceremony – 1:00 p.m. – 1:10 p.m. MST
A weekend of World Cup competition in Schonach, Germany, yielded good results for American Bryan Fletcher, especially on Sunday as he rose from 26th to ninth in the individual normal hill/10 k.
Saturday’s individual competition was dominated by Norwegians, with Magnus Moan taking first place in 24:58.5 and Haavard Klemetsen taking second 4.3 second later. On Sunday, France’s Jason Lamy Chappuis narrowly won in 23:47.1 and Germany’s Johannes Rydzek was just 0.7 seconds behind in second. Japan’s Akito Watabe showed remarkable consistency, getting third place both days, each time less than 1 second behind second place.
On Saturday, Fletcher was the lone American to qualify for the competition. He ranked 31st in the jump, then went on to ski up to 18th, 1:07.8 out of first, which he described as “bittersweet” after crashing in the race. On Sunday, he jumped to 26th in the provisional round which ended up being used to seed the cross-country race (after the competition jump was canceled).
“Todays conditions were tough,” Fletcher explained in an email. “Really strong winds, rain, warm weather all accounted for the cancellation of the jumping.”
With a “decent jump” putting him in fighting position, he was OK with the call.
“I was just excited to race,” he added. “I was really striving for a top 10 today.”
Fletcher started 58 seconds behind Klemetsen, who led after the jump, and went on to ski the third-fastest 10 k for ninth overall, 14.1 seconds behind Lamy Chappuis.
“I was in the hunt until the last hill and just couldn’t jockey for position in time,” Fletcher wrote. “I had some strategy going into the race to work with some other guys, however after the first lap the plan had not worked out. I was out alone and unfortunately had to spend a lot of energy on my own to catch the front group. But once I made contact I did my best to recover and try and gain spots on the hill, which was about the only place wide enough to ski two wide.”
Eric Frenzel of Germany jumped third and raced to first on Sunday for his third World Cup win this season, taking the 10 k individual Gundersen title by 5.3 seconds in 21:52.4. But he only started 8 seconds behind the leader.
Not taking anything away from Frenzel, the current World Cup overall leader, or Norway’s Haavard Klemetsen, who led the jump then finished second. But there were guys like Norwegian Mikko Kokslein that rose from the depths — 32nd in the jump to third overall — that really impressed in Sunday in Ramsau am Dachstein, Austria.
Kokslein posted the fastest 10 k in 20:45.0 to finish just 0.3 seconds out of second. Norway’s Magnus Krog placed fourth (+6.3) after starting 13th, Japan’s Akito Watabe jumped to eighth and finish fifth (+7.1), and Germany’s Fabian Riessle started 29th to place sixth (+7.6) with the third-fastest time.
Then there was Bryan Fletcher, who teamed up with Todd Lodwick on Saturday to bring the U.S. from 14th to a historic fourth in the team sprint. Fletcher’s jump ranked 30th out of 47 on Sunday, and the 27-year-old Colorado native skied up to seventh with the second-fastest time, 8.3 seconds behind Kokslein. After starting a minute and 9 seconds behind Klemetsen, Fletcher ended up just 9.9 seconds behind Frenzel as the winner and 4.3 seconds off the podium.
In his first race of the weekend, Billy Demong posted the 16th-best jump and eighth-fastest time to tally ninth (+10.6), his best individual result of the season. He was four-tenths of a second behind Austria’s Lukas Klapfer in eighth.
“I’ve been really focused on jumping this summer and really laid a solid foundation and built into good form which unfortunately did not translate right away in competition,” Demong wrote in an email. “But I am starting to feel really good on the hill now and also feel room for improvement.
“I thought I could be maybe make the podium and I really felt that I skied a well paced and executed race but when 15 guys hit the final climb together I chose a bad line and got caught up at one pony coming to a stop,” he explained. “I’m happy though I had good energy throughout the race and pushed over the top of all the climbs really hard.”
Lodwick placed 33rd (+1:22.8) after starting 40th and skiing the 26th-fastest time.
“All in all I think that we are showing that we are coming into form and that 3 top tens and near podiums with pretty average performance gives us confidence of good things to come!” Demong wrote.
Starting 14th of 20 teams in Saturday’s World Cup team sprint, US Nordic Combined’s Bryan Fletcher and Todd Lodwick put down ferocious 2 x 7.5 k lap times to finish fourth, just over a second off the podium in Ramsau, Austria.
Norway’s first team of Mikko Kokslein and Jørgen Graabak won the event in 33:59.3, just 8.2 seconds ahead of Norway II’s Haavard Klemetsen and Magnus Krog in second. Italy took third with Samuel Costa and Alessandro Pittin, 8.8 seconds behind the winners and 1.2 ahead of Fletcher and Lodwick, who combined for the fastest cross-country time.
The second U.S. team, Brett Denney and Taylor Fletcher placed 15th.
After the U.S. team came back from jumping to 12th in Sunday’s team event and placing seventh overall (with Taylor Fletcher posting the fastest anchor leg), Billy Demong explained that their showing at the first World Cup of the season in Kuusamo, Finland, didn’t go exactly as planned. None of the U.S. team jumped well enough to make it into Saturday’s individual competition.
“This weekend was a bit lackluster for sure,” Demong wrote in an email. “Jumping seemed to elude us in Kuusamo, which honestly has happened more often than not but does not seem to have much bearing on the rest of the season. The team has done good training and we are certainly looking forward to Lillehammer.”
Demong was disqualified for an equipment violation in Saturday’s provisional round, which he explained had to do with the girth of his jumping suit — in this case, his thigh.
“It seems that between the time we made (yes we make our own suits) the suit and the first comp I lost about 2cm of girth around my upper thigh and so the suit was deemed too big by the FIS,” Demong wrote. “We travel with a sewing machine for such reasons and so I was able to fix it and get it ready for Sundays team competition”
A longtime staple and accomplished veteran on the U.S. Nordic Combined Team, Johnny Spillane announced Thursday that he was retiring from the sport. In a letter to Steamboat Today, Spillane, of Steamboat Springs, Colo., cited family as his main reason for leaving the national team and life as a professional skier before the 2014 Olympics.
“My desire to be at home with my family outweighs my desire to pursue another Olympic medal,” he wrote. “In addition, I’m at a point in my personal life where I cannot afford to take the risk involved with professional athletics. I have a family for which I provide, and an injury or poor season can make it incredibly difficult to do so. While I will miss the sport, I will not miss the travel and the weeks away from home. It is difficult to watch your daughters grow up on Skype.”
Spillane, 32, racked up three Olympic silvers at the 2010 Vancouver Games and an individual gold at the 2003 World Championships.
“I am very proud of what our team accomplished while I was a member,” Spillane continued. “When I started, we had no Olympic or World Championship medals. Now the team boasts of three World Champions [Spillane, Billy Demong and Todd Lodwick], two Olympic individual medalists [Spillane and Demong] and one Olympic champion [Demong].”
He also thanked the Steamboat community for its support and intends to remain settled there.
VAL DI FIEMME, Italy — After placing fourth in the past two World Championships, the Americans made a point to land on the podium on Sunday in the normal hill/4 x 5 k team event and make history for U.S. Nordic Combined.
Starting in fifth about a minute behind Japan, which had the best jumping team score, the U.S. (Taylor Fletcher, Bryan Fletcher, Todd Lodwick, Billy Demong) rose to second early in the second leg with a strong performance from Bryan Fletcher. Austria’s Wilhelm Denifl had broken away a few kilometers into the race, and Fletcher tagged off to Lodwick in third, 23.3 seconds behind Austria and and less than a second behind Norway.
Lodwick worked with Norway, France and Japan to catch Austria’s Lukas Klapfer, positioning the U.S. in fourth at the last exchange.
Early in the final leg, Demong surged up front to lead Japan, France, Norway and Austria. With less than 2 k to go, he was still in the lead, followed closely by Norway’s Magnus Moan and France’s Jason Lamy Chappuis. On the final climb, Moan and Chappuis attacked and dropped Demong.
While Lamy Chappuis outsprinted Moan to the finish by 0.4 seconds to win gold for France, Demong held off Japan’s Yusuke Minato and Austria’s Mario Stecher on the downhill into the stadium and placed third, 4.2 seconds behind.
Germany demonstrated their strength in depth Sunday in Sochi, Russia, winning the men’s HS140/4×5 k team event by a commanding margin of 2.7 seconds over the second placed French team.
The German team consisted of Johannes Rydzek, Björn Kircheisen, Manuel Faisst and Eric Frenzel. Frenzel had to subdue the charge of Frenchman Jason Lamy Chappuis, a close rival in the overall Nordic Combined standings.
Manuel Faisst (GER), started off proceedings with a strong first leg which allowed subsequent runners Johannes Rydzek (GER) and Björn Kircheisen (GER) to set up Frenzel for the expectant showdown of Frenzel and Chappuis (FRA).
Frenzel precluded any late heroics by Chappuis by skiing away from his rival; Germany finished in a time of 51:23.3.
Austria completed the podium, trailing in in a time of 51:32.6, 9.3 seconds behind the winning time of Germany.
The United States skied to a seventh-place finish in a time of 53:14.2, 1:51.1 behind Germany.