in Historic Style
"It was awesome...and still is," a beaming Lodwick said as he entered retirement. Wife Sunny and 10-week-old daughter Charley were among the thousands at Holmenkollen enjoying his farewell; he chatted and waved to spectators along the four-lap 7.5K course.
"It wasn't a victory lap. It was four victory laps," laughed Coach Lasse Ottesen. "It was great. The people loved it, Todd loved it...and he got to say g’bye the way he wanted as he skied around the course."
"I wanted to pay tribute to the origins of skiing...to jumping and to cross country," Lodwick said. "I wanted to have fun but to show respect, especially in Norway where it's so treasured, for skiing."
He had a Windsor knot in his necktie, wore a sweater - supplied by Ottesen's father - from the historic Kongsberg Ski Club, which produced jumping champions for decades, and wore knickers and high socks as he toured the renowned hilltop ski complex.
Before the event, Lodwick changed from his customary jump suit into the old garb - and even jumped in the old style, arms forward and skis together in mid-air rather than the V-technique, which revolutionized jumping in the early Nineties. His lone jump in the sprint event was 45 meters shorter than jump leader Jaakko Tallus of Finland.
"Todd was pretty stylish," said U.S. Nordic Director Luke Bodensteiner. "He looked great...and he did it in style."
He started the four-lap, 7.5K race nearly four and a half minutes back. Bjoern Kircheisen of Germany won in 18:19.1; it took the smiling Lodwick nearly 23 minutes to finish.
"Holmenkollen is one of my favorite places - with Steamboat and Schonach [Germany] and this was the perfect place to finish things," he said. "I'm not going on to Sapporo [for the final events March 18-19]; this is it. It's appropriate I finish here; I won here in '98, I love this whole area...and everything it means to my sport.
Lodwick was 16 when he was named to the U.S. Ski Team for the 1994 season. He won his first international competition - an Intercontinental Cup meet, as World Cup-B events were known in those days - to open the season, shortly after turning 17, and he jumped to fifth place at the Olympics, eventually finishing 14th. He was the combined gold medalist at the 1996 Junior World Championships in Asiago, Italy, and led the resurgence of the U.S. combined program under Coach Tom Steitz.
He was fifth in the inaugural Olympic sprint in 2002 and seventh in the individual event, the two best U.S. Olympic results in history. Last month, he was eighth in the individual (15K) and ninth in the sprint in the Torino Winter Games.
When the sprint event was all but over, and most of the competitors had finished and spectators were starting to leave, Lodwick said, the public address announcer "told them, 'Wait don't leave - Todd's coming in, he'll be here shortly - and please honor him and what he's done.' Now, is that awesome, or what? And they waited and cheered...it was like a dream."
around to share the moment. Todd traded fives with many as they lined the course.
He flies home Monday, he said, and Tuesday he'll start looking at post-career opportunities. He'll do some consulting with Woodstone Management in Steamboat, which works with Fortune 500 companies on human dynamics in the workplace, rejoining Steitz, and will be working toward a real estate license as Steamboat continues to grow.
"It's been fun, doing something I love - skiing's been my life since I was a kid, while I still was in school...until now. But it's time to move on, and this has been a great way to end it - with my wife and daughter, with my coaches and teammates at a fun dinner tonight."
Copyright © 2006 All Rights Reserved, photos © Todd Lodwick