USST's Todd Lodwick lands on podium in Oberhof

USST’s Todd Lodwick lands on podium in Oberhof{mosimage}USSA — Three-time Olympian Todd Lodwick moved up two spots in the nordic combined 15km race Tuesday to grab his first World Cup podium in nearly 12 months, finishing third behind World Cup leader Ronny Ackermann of Germany with a crowd of perhaps 10,000 enjoying the competition.

It was the fifth win in six combined events this season for Ackermann as the second so-called “calendar period” in the combined season got under way in clear weather and temperatures in the upper 20s. Ackermann led the jumping and cruised to victory in the 15km, finishing 53.6 seconds ahead of former World Cup champ Felix Gottwald of Austria.

Lodwick was third in the first round of jumping and fifth after the second; that put him 21 seconds ahead of Gottwald to start the race. He had the eighth-fastest time for the 15km, finishing 1:06.6 behind Ackerman. He now stands ninth in the points.

“My plan was to stay with Felix when he came up to me,” Lodwick said, who had relaxed over the Christmas break, trying to shake a cold that had bothered him earlier in the month. “My jumping went well and it was a good race. I just couldn’t catch him at the end.”

It was Lodwick’s best showing in a World Cup since last January when he was third in a World Cup in Chaux-Neuve, France. He’s been in the top 10 of the final standings every year since the 1998 season, including fourth twice.

Carl Van Loan, who moved up to the World Cup after strong World Cup-B results in December, was among seven skiers who missed their second jump, so he didn’t finish the event.

“It was a mess … some kind of a communication foul-up,” said U.S. head coach Bard Elden. “Carl was called again to have his suit checked, so he was there when the round started … and they just didn’t tell the other guys, who were up at the start in the warming hut, when they should be jumping. And then they just shrugged after the round when we protested; they didn’t get a chance.”

The next event in the German Grand Prix, the annual three-event series within the World Cup schedule, is a sprint (one K90 jump, 7.5km race) set for Friday at Reit-im-Winkl, Germany. Sprint world champion Johnny Spillane is trying to shake a cold that has bothered him since late November during jump training at Utah Olympic Park, Elden said. Spillane will rejoin the U.S. team before the two events Jan. 10-11 in Seefeld, Austria.

Nordic Combined World Cup
German Grand Prix, K120/15K
Oberhof, Germany
December 30, 2003

1. Ronny Ackermann, Germany, (1/20)
2. Felix Gottwald, Austria, (7/5) 53.6 seconds back
3. Todd Lodwick, Steamboat Springs, Colo., (5/8) 1:06.6
4. Christoph Bieler, Austria, (3/22) 1:18.1
5. Daito Takahashi, Japan, (2/30) 1:23.5
Other Americans:
DNF: Carl Van Loan, Webster, N.H.

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