No American Winter Olympian will enter the 2014 Sochi Games with more experience than Nordic combined skier Todd Lodwick, so it is only fitting that the Olympic veteran will lead the Team USA delegation as flag bearer during the Feb. 7 opening ceremony.
According to Kelly Whiteside of USA Today, the United States Olympic Committee announced its decision Wednesday, Feb. 5:
The 37-year-old native of Steamboat Springs, Colo., made his Olympic debut at the 1994 Lillehammer Games, and he will become the first six-time American Winter Olympian in Sochi, per Greg Ferraro of NBCOlympics.com:
The Nordic combined is a grueling event that involves both cross-country skiing and ski jumping. Prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, the United States had won a grand total of zero Nordic combined medals in the Winter Games.
That changed in a big way as Johnny Spillane captured silver in both the 10-kilometer individual normal hill event and the 10-kilometer individual large hill competition. Also, Bill Demong captured the first Nordic combined gold medal in American Olympic history in the 10-kilometer large hill event.
Lodwick fell just short of nabbing a bronze medal in the 10-kilometer individual normal hill pursuit as he finished a mere 0.7 seconds behind Italy's Alessandro Pittin. Lodwick ultimately got the last laugh, however, when he, Spillane, Demong and Brett Camerota won silver in the 4x5-kilometer team event.
Although Lodwick may not medal in Sochi, he is the personification of determination. Despite suffering a dislocated left shoulder in January, Lodwick announced his goal to heal up in time for the 2014 Olympics, according to Nick Zaccardi of NBC Olympic Talk.
"Bruised and beat up a little bit, but my spirits are pretty high at the moment," Lodwick said just days after the ski jumping crash. "I have all intention of recovering from this and being as strong as I can."
Per Zaccardi, Lodwick is only expected to compete in the Nordic combined team event in Sochi:
Even so, Lodwick was true to his word, and he should serve as an inspiration to the rest of the American Olympians that will follow him in Sochi.
It is entirely possible that the 2014 Winter Games will be Lodwick's swan song. If that is the case, then there is no better way to go out than as flag bearer for the United States.
With that said, Lodwick has been overcoming the odds throughout his career, so don't be surprised if he finds a way to qualify for the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics as well.
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