SOLDIER HOLLOW, UT (Dec. 13) - World Champion Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) swept his way through a blizzard to take his second straight win an International Ski Federation Nordic Combined Continental Cup at Soldier Hollow Sunday. Austrian Tomaz Druml was second and Germany's Steffen Tepel third, matching the podium ranking from the opening event on Saturday.
Lodwick took the lead in the jump Saturday at the Utah Olympic Park. With snow moving in, officials opted to add a second jump Saturday to be used for Sunday's comp. It paid off, as blizzard conditions descended on the Wasatch Mountain throughout the weekend. Visibility was limited for Sunday's cross country leg on the 2002 Olympic trails at Soldier Hollow near Midway, UT.
"It never ceases to amaze me that the first race of the year has something special involved with it and in this case it was the weather," said Lodwick. "I think that the skiing was a little easier, but on the downhill's it was really hard to see the contours of the track."
Saturday's winner took an eight-second lead over Japanese Yoshito Watabe after the jump. More importantly, the veteran had a 1:15 margin over Druml and three seconds more back to Tepel, who were eighth and ninth respectively in the jump.
While Lodwick kept a steady pace lap after lap, Druml and Tepel battled each other and moved quickly up through the pack. Druml set a torrid pace from the start, pulling Tepel with him. But Lodwick was untouchable, giving up only three seconds to Druml to take a 1:12.1 margin.
"I don't think it was much more snow than yesterday but maybe a little wetter," said Druml. "The skis were good and it was a nice race for me.
"It was a very nice start," added Druml, who picked up two second place finishes. "I worked very hard on my skiing and my jumping skills and it worked out."
"I'm very happy I had such a good start," said Tepel. "It was even tougher than yesterday because I had to race three seconds from the start behind Tomaz Druml and he really went out quick at the start. I tried to stay close to him but in the last lap he was so strong it was hard to stay close to him."
It was another great day for a host of U.S. athletes vying to get onto the World Cup and grab an Olympic spot. Eric Camerota (Park City, UT) continued his aggressive comeback from a July knee injury, moving up from 10th Saturday to just miss the podium in fourth. Alex Miller (Steamboat Springs, CO), who was fourth on Saturday, notched his second straight top-ten.
"It was a great day for the USA and the work we've been doing," added Lodwick. "I can't say enough about my teammates. If it wasn't for them, I wouldn't be here. Alex Miller and Taylor Fletcher and I trained a lot at Steamboat before these races and it really helped. Steamboat is a great community that really helps its athletes. I met with the ski area in November and laid out my plan. They really accomodated us."
The races were a strategic tuneup for Lodwick, who leaves Monday for Europe, will be back in World Cup action with a three event weekend in Ramsau, Austria.
The Continental Cup now heads to Lake Placid, NY for a pair of events next weekend.
FIS NORDIC COMBINED CONTINENTAL CUP
Dec. 13, 2009
Utah Olympic Park, Park City, UT
Soldier Hollow, Midway, UT
1. Todd Lodwick, Steamboat Springs, CO (1/2) 28:41.5
2. Tomaz Druml, Austria, (8/1) +1:12.1
3. Steffen Tepel, Germany, (9/2) +1:17.7
4. Fabian Riessle, Germany, (10/4) +1:41.0
5. Eric Camerota, Park City, UT, (14/7) +2:06.8
10. Alex Miller, Steamboat Springs, CO, (14/11) +2:21.9
15. Taylor Fletcher, Steamboat Springs, CO, (30/5) +3:06.7
19. Nick Hendrickson, Park City, UT, (40/6) +3:18.7
25. Willy Graves, Putney, VT, (12/32) +3:50.7
36. Carl Van Loan, Andover, NH, (44/19) +4:52.1
37. Alex Glueck, Steamboat Springs, CO, (41/27) +5:00.1
38. Brett Denney, Steamboat Springs, CO, (50/15) +5:15.3
42. Cliff Field, Steamboat Springs, CO, (43/46) +6:52.7
44. Erik Lynch, Steamboat Springs, CO, (47/44) +7:06.0
47. Michael Ward, Steamboat Springs, CO, (55/37) +7:31.0