KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia - Todd Lodwick took his ski jump Wednesday, then called it a day in the Nordic combined's individual normal hill/10K competition in the Winter Olympics at the RusSki Gorki Jumping Center.
Five weeks after shattering his shoulder in a ski-jump crash in France, Lodwick decided he would not take part in the 10K later in the afternoon, preferring to rest for the large hill/4x5K relay on Feb. 20.
It isn't certain yet if he'll compete in the large hill/10K individual event on Feb. 18.
"I'm done for the day. I'm going to rest," said Lodwick, who was fourth in the normal hill/10K at the 2010 Games in Vancouver. "The whole goal coming here after the shoulder injury was to make sure that we are a full team and to make sure we're as strong as we can be and they're relying on me to be 100 percent for the team event.
"It was good to put on the bib. I earned it."
In the same event, fellow Steamboat Springs, Colo., residents Bryan and Taylor Fletcher shook off disappointing performances in the jump and climbed in the standings as Bryan finished 26th and Taylor 33rd.
Bryan had been 41st with his younger brother Taylor 46th, which was last, after the ski jump. Both expected to make up considerable ground in the cross country segment and succeeded.
"It was exciting," Bryan Fletcher said after the competition closed in mild, sunny weather. "The crowd was amazing. Just the Olympic feel is awesome. I couldn't be happier to be here, so regardless of the result there's still a smile on my face. It's tough out there, but it's easy to keep going no matter how bad you're hurting because of the atmosphere.''
Lodwick, 37, is competing in his U.S.-record sixth Winter Olympics and carried the flag during the Opening Ceremony Friday night. He was on the U.S. team that took home the silver medal from Vancouver in the large hill/4x5K relay in 2010.
A U.S. pioneer in the sport of Nordic combined, Lodwick in 1995 became the first American to ever win a World Cup race. In Wednesday's ski jump, he placed 34th.
"That's my sixth jump since I've come back from my injury and I couldn't be more thrilled," said Lodwick, who suffered a fracture and torn ligaments in his spill. "The atmosphere here, jumping over the Olympics rings, is something I wish you all could experience and something that I'll never forget. Every Olympics for me has been special."
Bryan Fletcher, 27, had been eliminated from 2010 Olympic consideration after spraining his ankle. He still worked the Vancouver Games as a ski-jump forerunner, preparing the takeoff for the competitors. That gave him more incentive to make the 2014 team, so Wednesday's Olympic debut was worth treasuring.
Fletcher entered the Games ranked 13th in the World Cup standings, including six top-10 finishes. The large hill/10K, in which he believes his chances are better, and large hill/4x5 team relay remain.
"It was a race to get the feel of things for me and see how the course races," he said. "I wouldn't say it was my best race but a solid race. First two laps were really strong. Paid for it a little bit on the third lap, but it was more just doing some research for next week, trying to get a feel for things out there. Obviously, the jumping didn't go as well as I'd hoped since it was an opportunity to get a little more training in on the course."
In the cross country portion, skiers took four laps around a hilly 2.5K layout that all agreed was quite difficult.
"It's always a good experience to be out here," said Taylor Fletcher, 23, who was 45th in the large hill/10K in 2010 in Vancouver. "Obviously, that jump didn't go like I was hoping at all."
Fletcher's poor jump forced him to begin way back in the staggered start. He passed many competitors on the clock, even if he didn't in person.
"I still had a pretty strong cross-country race," he said. "I skied the whole thing by myself. I had no one with me at any moment. And that makes things twice as hard. When you have people with you, you can draft off them and use their energy to your advantage. That didn't happen today because I was so far back. I made up 30 seconds on the first lap on the guy in front of me and that took a lot of energy, but I felt good the second and third lap and then I started to hit the wall on the last lap."
Kevin Tresolini writes for The News Journal (Wilmington, Del.).