CHAUX NEUVE, France (Jan. 16) - World Champion Todd Lodwick (Steamboat Springs, CO) notched his second World Cup podium in as many weeks Saturday, taking third to lead three U.S. men into the top 10 in France.
The cross country leg of the race was hard fought as the U.S. Ski Team's three World Champions - Lodwick, Billy Demong (Vermontville, NY) and Johnny Spillane (Steamboat Springs) - each took turns holding onto the leader's spot. It was a plan which Lodwick says helped him get to the podium today.
Todd Lodwick jumps into contention, finishing third in the Chaux-Neuve World Cup. (Getty Images/Agence Zoom-Francis Bompard)
"It's nice to be on the podium and that's what we work for. But, I have to give credit to the Team. I didn't feel good in the third lap and they shared leading the group and enabled me to rest for the last tail end. I needed that extra effort to be up there," Lodwick said.
Norway's Magnus Moan won the day's competition, spoiling a victory bid by Jason Lamy Chappuis in front of his home fans. Spillane finished fifth and Demong sixth.
With only 2.8K of the cross country race under their feet, Spillane led Demong and Lodwick into the lead and a 1-2-3 U.S. pack where the trio interchanged spots and dominated the race until Moan took over at the start of the final lap.
According to Nordic Combined Head Coach Dave Jarrett, the three champs were gunning for a sweep.
"All three of those guys were trading off. They had talked to each other and worked out a plan where they'd all share the lead on each lap and try to have a team tactic," Jarrett said.
The trio were very close thanks to similar jump scores, but were unable to execute the plan in the end.
"They happened to all jump within seconds of each other, so that helps. It's not always that way. All the strategizing in the world is only good if you can execute it. It didn't work out the way we wanted, but that's the way it goes," Jarrett said. "One on the podium and three in the top six is still a good day."
For Lodwick, though, the day's results were a good sign of what the team is capable of if the cards are right.
"It's awesome to have three skiers in the top six. We just keep getting better and better," Lodwick said. "It's nice to be able to work together and get up there on the podium. We were hoping for a sweep, but there was a smart skier out there and a fast one, so it was difficult. But, it's nice to at least have one person on the podium and three in the top six."
The podium and the teamwork are significant to Lodwick as he, Demong and Spillane look ahead to the 2010 Olympics.
"I think it's important for the whole team. It enables us to work together and work out a strategy," Lodwick said. "I think we need to keep in mind that we're here to win this and we're going to do anything possible to do that."
The tram now looks ahead to Sunday's nordic combined to hopefully work their way to the top. But, according to Lodwick, some uncontrollable factors may intervene.
"I hope we get to jump, but they have called for bad weather," Lodwick said." We might have to use the provisional jump, which is great for the team but not very good for me. I didn't have a good jump yesterday. But Billy and Johnny are definitely up there in that. Hopefully we can get another guy on the podium."
Sunday's race will be the last for the Team before the Olympics. They will head home for rest and a pre-Olympic camp in Park City, UT in early February.
FIS Nordic Combined World Cup
Chaux Neuve, France - Jan. 16, 2010
1. Magnus Moan, Norway, (29/1) 23:30.7
2. Jason Lamy Chappuis, France, (1/11) +4.2 (seconds back)
3. Todd Lodwick, Steamboat Springs, CO, (7/3) +7.1
4. Pavel Churavy, Czech Republic, (6/4) +8.2
5. Johnny Spillane, Steamboat Springs, CO (5/6) +11.7
6. Billy Demong, Vermontville, NY (10/5) +14.0
39. Taylor Fletcher, Steamboat Springs, CO (56/20) +2:58.6