Todd Lodwick

Todd Lodwick makes history at U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined Trials

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Todd Lodwick won the U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined Trials on Saturday, becoming the first six-time U.S. Winter Olympian.

“Winning today was definitely a monkey off the back in being able to say that I am in fact going to my sixth Olympic Games,” Lodwick said. “It’s daunting and humbling statement, but I don’t think there was any doubt in my mind, even before this competition, that I was going to make my sixth team as long as I trained hard and competed well.”

Lodwick, 37, took a 36-second lead into the 10km cross-country race due to winning the morning ski jump in Park City, Utah. He held off Bryan Fletcher for the trials title by 17 seconds.

The rest of the up-to-five-man U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined Team will be named by Jan. 22. It is expected to include Fletcher, brother Taylor and 2010 Olympic champion Bill Demong.

“I’m never surprised at what Todd can pull off,” said Demong, who finished third. “He has proven time and time again that he can pull through.”

The U.S. Olympic Trials continue with men’s and women’s ski jumping on Sunday (NBC, 1:30-3 p.m. ET).

Lodwick’s 36-second lead was not insurmountable given he led after the ski jumping portion of the National Championships in October and finished more than one minute behind winner Demong after the 10km roller skiing portion.

Lodwick first competed at the Olympics in Lillehammer, Norway, in 1994 at age 17. He accumulated nine top-10s over the 1998, 2002, 2006 and 2010 Olympics before winning his first Olympic medal in 2010, a team silver.

The U.S. Olympic Nordic Combined Team hopes to build on its first Olympic medals from the Vancouver Games. Demong won the large hill competition in 2010 and the now retired Johnny Spillane added two silver medals to the team silver.

“I have no doubt that the top guys will go to Sochi, and we will be an awesome team and have a strong showing,” Lodwick said. “For me today to put the emotional side away and compete at my best, especially in front of everybody, is very humbling.”

U.S. Olympic Ski Jumping/Nordic Combined Trials preview, schedule

Syria-born Olympian takes advocacy role at U.N. refugee agency

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GENEVA (AP) — The U.N. refugee agency has chosen as a goodwill ambassador a Syrian teenage girl who helped save a boat carrying fellow refugees and later became an Olympic swimmer.

Yusra Mardini was appointed as UNHCR Goodwill Ambassador on Thursday, joining other notables like actress Cate Blanchett and author Khaled Hosseini in the unpaid advocacy role.

UNHCR chief Filippo Grandi said Mardini “represents the hopes, the fears and the incredible potential of the more than 10 million young refugees around the globe.”

Mardini and her sister Sarah jumped overboard and swam for hours alongside their overloaded boat to reach Greece from Turkey in 2015.

She swam on the first Refugee Olympic team in Rio last year and has discussed refugees’ challenges with leaders like Pope Francis and President Barack Obama.

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Rafael Nadal recreates famous 1992 Olympic cauldron lighting

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Rafael Nadal, owner of two Olympic gold medals, recently parroted arguably the most famous moment in Spanish Olympic history.

Nadal and Marc Lopez, the 2016 Olympic doubles champions, took up bows and arrows and joined archer Antonio Rebollo on Monday at the 1992 Barcelona Olympic Stadium. It brought back memories of Rebollo’s unforgettable cauldron lighting from the only Olympics held in Spain.

Nadal is in Barcelona for an ATP Tour event as he prepares to vie for a 10th French Open title next month.

Rebollo, now 61 years old, was one of 200 hundred archers considered to light the cauldron in 1992. He learned that he was chosen for the role over four other finalists two hours ahead of time, according to an NBC Olympics profile in 1996.

The cauldron would be 195 feet away. Fearing Rebollo would miss the target, organizers instructed him to fire his arrow beyond the stadium walls. As the arrow soared, a technician lit the natural gas flame with a remote control.

The illusion worked. The true story wasn’t revealed for another 20 years.

“There were no fears,” Rebollo, a Barcelona native who contracted polio at age 8, told NBC two decades ago. “I was practically a robot. I focused on my positioning and reaching the target. That was all. … My feelings were taken from the people who described to me how they saw it. What they felt, their emotions, their cries. This is what made me realize what the moment actually meant.”

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