Olden, golden, U.S. team prepare for last shot

Mon Feb 10, 2014 9:20am EST
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By David Ljunggren

ROSA KHUTOR, Russia (Reuters) - Fired up by an ailing 33-year-old and a 37-year-old "freak of nature" who is recovering from a dislocated shoulder, the U.S. Nordic Combined team are gearing up for another real shot at Olympic medals.

The United States have gradually become a major player in Nordic Combined, where athletes first take a single leap from a ski jump and then race on a cross country track.

The team made their Olympic breakthrough at the 2010 Games, winning a gold and three silvers in the three events. The two veterans who made it possible are back for one last time, hoping their experience can compensate for sickness.

Todd Lodwick, 37, dislocated his left shoulder and fractured his arm and a rib in a fall last month. He won a silver in the team event in 2010.

"After the crash it was devastating, and a mental challenge, but ... if you put your mind to something anything's possible. The athlete who I am knew that I was going to get here, one way or another," he told reporters on Monday.

Lodwick - who admits the shoulder still hurts - has the slightly sardonic air of a man who has seen it all, noting that most of the other competitors had not even been born when he started racing.

Asked how he would cope with the warm conditions, he replied: "I'd like to compensate with a margarita and chips and salsa but I'll wait until after the season is done to do that."

MENTAL STRENGTH   Continued...

Todd Lodwick from the U.S. soars through the air during the training of the normal hill ski jumping portion of the Nordic Combined individual 10 km event at the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic Games, at the RusSki Gorki Ski Jumping Center in Rosa Khutor, February 9, 2014. REUTERS/Michael Dalder