LAKE PLACID, NY (Oct. 10) - World Champion Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) made it an even 20 titles as he won the U.S. Nordic Combined Championships Saturday during Lake Placid's annual Flaming Leaves Festival.
For Lodwick, who had previously said having 20 U.S. titles would be great, the win on Saturday meant more than he thought it would.
"This ranks up there with one of the more memorable national titles. I think I'm almost twice the age I was when I won my first title. It's nice to be in shape, it's nice to know that I can still compete at a top level," Lodwick said. "With the competition and with the juniors and the Team itself, this is not the easiest National Championships to win."
Lodwick was followed on the podium by Brett Camerota (Park City, UT) in second and Bryan Fletcher (Steamboat Springs, CO) in third.
Reflecting on a hard comeback year, which followed two years of retirement for Lodwick, the U.S. Ski Team athlete said given the competition in the day's field, he's happy to be on top.
"I've had some setbacks this year, but battled through them and tried to keep my motivation high," Lodwick said. "Today was one of the hardest days of jumping that you could possibly see, but I am happy to have done it."
For Camerota, the podium finish was particularly exciting as it was his best U.S. Championships finish to date and put him head-to-head with a World Champion.
"This is our last competition before winter and to be second behind Todd is always a confidence booster going in to the winter," Camerota said. "I had Todd 38 seconds behind me at the start of the race. I knew at some point he would catch me, but I was just hoping to ski with him and pace off him as long as I could. He stayed about 30 seconds in front of me the whole race."
With some tricky weather conditions that included rain, second-place finisher Camerota said bring able to overcome rainy streets and a tail wind were key in his finish.
"I've been jumping pretty well here. There's always a tail wind over the knoll of the jump, which is bad for jumping, but there was a head wind at the bottom. I stayed with it and ended up having the second longest jump," Camerota said. "Doing eight laps of the roller ski course is like doing eight intervals with the ups and downs but with no rest. I'm glad it stopped raining for the downhill."
Notably missing from the day's competition was hometown hero and World Champion Billy Demong (Vermontvile, NY) who chose not to compete after a roller ski injury a week ago. But, according to U.S. Nordic Combined Head Coach Dave Jarrett, the championships were an opportunity for younger athletes to step up.
"It was a good day for everyone, it shows our depth with new guys stepping up with the injuries to Billy, Johnny, and Eric. I am psyched for everyone and wish the three injured guys a speedy recovery," Jarrett said.
The festivities at the Flaming Leaves Festival continue Saturday night for an awards party and Olympic season send off. Sunday the Flaming Leaves Festival will host a SuperTour event.
2010 U.S. NORDIC COMBINED CHAMPIONSHIPS
Lake Placid, NY - Oct. 10, 2009
1. Todd Lodwick, Steamboat Springs, CO
2. Brett Camerota, Park City, UT
3. Bryan Fletcher, Steamboat Springs, CO
4. Sturla Sandoy, Norway
5. Taylor Fletcher, Steamboat Springs, CO
6. Alex Glueck, Steamboat Springs, CO
7. Nick Hendrickson, Park City, UT
8. Alex Miller, Steamboat Springs, CO
9. Carl Van Loan, Webster, NH
10. Willy Graves, Putney, VT