SOCHI 2014

By Lisa Costantini | Dec. 03, 2013, 10 a.m. (ET)
Bill Demong, Todd Lodwick, Bryan Fletcher and Taylor Fletcher celebrate third place in the 4x5-kilometer team event during the FIS Nordic World Ski Championships on Feb. 24, 2013 in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

Todd Lodwick skis in the 4x5-kilometer team event of the FIS Nordic
World Ski Championships on Feb. 24, 2013 in Val di Fiemme, Italy.

Todd Lodwick is what you could call a veteran. The 37-year-old Nordic combined skier has been competing in the Olympic Winter Games since he was a teenager when, at 17 years old, he walked in his first Opening Ceremony at the 1994 Lillehammer Games. Qualifying for Sochi 2014 would make him Team USA’s first six-time winter Olympian — a label he describes as “humbling.” Though it beats his current title as the oldest guy competing on the Nordic combined world cup tour. But he says it’s thanks to his own early start that he is able to still connect with the younger crowd.

His lengthy experience in sport has led him to appreciate others who have spent their lives dedicated to a cause. Which is how, despite not having a military background, the veteran of his sport joined forces with American 300, a foundation that works to improve troop morale to service members in the States and stationed abroad. As someone who launched a career at a young age, Lodwick is able to draw parallels between the two. “A lot of our service members are right out of high school, they’re 18, 19, 20, and they’ve been given some huge responsibilities.”

Lodwick got involved nearly four years ago when his ski team’s former wax tech, Rob Powers (a founding member of American 300), introduced him to the organization. From the start it “took a gripping hold on me. Once I saw it first-hand I knew it was something that I wanted to be involved with.”

The 2010 Olympic silver medalist in the 4x5-kilometer team event has worked with the organization and interacted directly with the troops during visits to places like Iraq. His role, he said, is to “just be there and listen to stories. We want to tell them we know that their job is hard and how much we appreciate it.”

Lodwick’s favorite trip with American 300 to date was when he joined fellow teammates Johnny Spillane, Billy Demong and Brett Camerota on the “Heavy Medal Tour.” The group spent 10 days in Baghdad sharing their Olympic medals and swapping stories.

“Rob brought us to bring morale,” Lodwick said. “We went everywhere from C-130s to dining halls to mess halls to oil platforms. Of course there was some fun along the way — and we got to pull some triggers and blow some stuff up — but in the end we all got together to share some stories. I definitely came away from it with a much broader respect for our men and women in uniform.”

As someone who placed fourth in two separate Winter Games, he said he comes away from these trips wanting to “go out and train that much harder” — motivating him to add to the silver medal he currently travels with. “I can’t wait for the next trip and hopefully be sharing a Sochi medal instead of a Vancouver medal.”

He still feels proud to share the medal with the very service members who fight for our country’s freedom. “I want to let them know if it wasn’t for them, it wouldn’t have been possible for a kid like me who dreamed about skiing to go and compete in the Olympic Games.”

Born and raised in the winter environs of Steamboat Springs, Colo., Lodwick couldn’t imagine doing anything else as a career. “There is something about flying through the air at 60 miles an hour with a pair of big skis on your feet. It’s one of those sports that is hard to explain to people, but I don’t think I could ever ponder doing anything different than what I was doing.”

The time will come when he is forced to find a new passion, but for now he says it will have to wait until after February. Having overcome some health issues at the end of the 2011 season, Lodwick is now feeling “pretty good. I train hard. And the greatest part about it is I’ve got teammates to rely on if I’m down, and they’re right there to bring me back up. Hopefully I’m providing that to them as well.”

The U.S. Nordic combined team has a lot of expectations going into the Sochi Games but they are “looking strong; and as long as we all stay healthy and positive, I think performing at our best is going to be right up there on the medals platform.” But first, he says he has to make the team.

“I have to make sure I am doing everything every day to get there.” To be the first six-time winter Olympian for Team USA is something he hopes “will come to fruition. Because it comes with a lot of personal gratification to get to the Olympic Games, not just once, but multiple times.”

He knows that he has American 300 rooting him on. “I can’t tell you how much the organization and the people who are involved with that have given me that little extra that pushes me down the road. I get a lot of gratification out of being associated with a program like that.”

It’s something he said he hopes to share more with his kids — 8-year-old daughter Charley, and his son Finn, who is 4. “After the Olympic Games I can’t wait to be more involved with them and American 300, as I will have so much more time.”

Free time will be something new to the competitive skier, but something he is looking forward to.

“My intentions after the Games are to take some serious time off; get away from the sport — whether that brings me back to the Olympic Games or competitiveness, I don’t know. The door is never closed, but I’m looking forward to taking some time off, for sure. Concentrate on my kids and the next part of my life.”

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