- Alpine Skiing
Andrew Weibrecht sees to it that 'War Horse' rides again in Sochi super-G
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — When you check in to the Mirror Lake Inn in Lake Placid, N.Y., owned and operated by Ed and Lisa Weibrecht, there proudly on display is the bronze medal their son, Andrew, won skiing the super-G in the 2010 Vancouver Winter Games.
Of all the medals the U.S. Ski Team won in Vancouver, that bronze seems perhaps the most incredible.
- Full event replay – men’s super-G
- Kjetil Jansrud wins super-G gold
- Bode Miller’s flood of emotion
- Bode Miller: Emotional strength
- Bode Miller teary-eyed after super-G bronze
- Surprising silver for Andrew Weibrecht in super-G
- Bode Miller ties for bronze in super-G
- Canada’s Jan Hudec ties Bode Miller for bronze in super-G
- Expert analysis on Bode Miller’s 6th career Olympic medal
- Bode Miller: ‘one of the legends’
- Medal ceremony: Men’s super-G
Now there’s only thing more incredible than the bronze he won four years ago. It’s the silver he won Sunday in the 2014 Sochi super-G. Just check some of the reaction on Twitter.
This, from Vancouver Nordic combined gold-medalist Billy Demong:
@a_weibrecht is my hero!— Billy Demong (@BillyDemong) February 16, 2014
U.S. alpine racer Alice McKennis echoed:
Another U.S. skier, Scott Macartney:
Andrew Weibrecht you are my hero. Way to pin it buddy! Go Horse! Unreal.— Scott Macartney (@smacartney) February 16, 2014
Unreal, indeed, because you could have gotten tremendous odds in Las Vegas — or the casinos that all these hotels down-valley here in Rosa Khutor surely are going to have to be turned into after these Games are over — on Weibrecht winning yet another medal and pushing Bode Miller down to bronze.
Miller is only the best male skier the United States has ever produced, winner of two World Cup overall season titles. He now has six career Olympic medals. In winning that bronze Sunday — he tied with Canada’s Jan Hudec — Miller became the oldest alpine skier to medal. He is 36.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Andrew Weibrecht: War Horse's wild Olympic rides
Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud — a year after tearing up his knee — won the race, in 1:18.14. A “fairly tale,” Jansrud called it.
Weibrecht? The man undeniably, as he proved again Sunday, has talent, finishing just three-tenths back. But he has been consumed since Vancouver by injury and financial issues.
A quick rundown:
- 2010: right shoulder, left ankle
- 2011, left shoulder
- 2012, right ankle, major reconstruction
- 2013, ankle
Because Weibrecht, now 27, was hurt so often, he was dropped at one point from the U.S. Ski Team’s “A” roster to its “B” team. That meant he had to pay for himself. He learned how to write grant proposals to keep racing.
His best finish this season? The super-G at Beaver Creek, 20th. What about that suggested Olympic silver?
Indeed, Weibrecht was joking Sunday that as recently as Saturday he was just worn out from the stress of it all. Or, deep-down, was that really a joke?
“You can only get beaten down so many times before you start to look at what you are doing,” he was saying. “I don’t know how many beat-downs I can take before I can take something positive.”
Amazing, Weibrecht was also saying, what a good night’s sleep will do.
In his career, Weibrecht has two career top-nine finishes across the Olympic Games, World Championships and World Cup circuit; both are in the Olympic super-G; both are medals. That is either awesome, or ridiculous, or maybe both.
Embedded owg_slideshow: Sochi Olympics: Men's super-G
On top of all of this, Weibrecht drew one of the crummiest starting slots for Sunday’s race, No. 29.
At the team captain’s meeting late Saturday, officials for the international ski federation, which goes by the acronym FIS, were totally upfront in saying they were pushing the start of the race up an hour, to 10 a.m., because by 10:45 they fully expected the snow to start getting slushy.
Dawn broke Sunday without the bright sun that has dominated the scene here throughout the Games. There were clouds in the sky. Even so, there were still shadows on the course. Which meant that by 10:45 the sun would be warming the course.
Which meant that the guy running No. 29 would be facing different conditions than, say, the guy who ran No. 13 — who was Bode Miller.
In his typical soft-spoken, self-deprecating way, Weibrecht had said Friday at the super-combined — in which he had drawn bib No. 23 for the downhill run in the bright sun — that for the super-G he was “hoping for a low number and planning for the worst, I guess.”
He also allowed that he had been training with Ted Ligety in Austria and said, “My skiing has come along — the last month, especially. I haven’t had a lot of great results but we haven’t had had a lot of races. I think I’m in a pretty good place right now and just hoping for the best.”
Miller, who had been in the finish area, watching, as racer after racer came down, said of Weibrecht,
“With the course probably being a second slower than it was at the start of the race, with Andrew at the start, I was like, there’s [nonetheless] a good chance he wins this run — right now," Miller said. “Just like — you know, there’s so many guys, especially a guy like Andrew, the intensity he has, the athletic ability on his skis. I can’t say I’m surprised at all. I was on the podium with him last time in Vancouver. I luckily snuck ahead of him that time. He got me this time.”
Embedded owg_slideshow: Bode Miller's emotional Sochi super-G bronze
Weibrecht, for his part, said, he at first “didn’t think I had much of a chance” given that he was starting 29th. But, he said, “I made a promise to stick to the plan and just stick to the skiing.”
Jansrud had started 21st, Hudec 22nd. “If there was one guy who risks everything, it’s him — I knew,” Jansrud said of Weibrecht.
At the first interval, Weibrecht was three-tenths ahead of Jansrud’s time. At the second and third splits, Weibrecht was ahead, too.
“My legs turned to jelly there for a second,” Jansrud said as Weibrecht came down the mountain.
Over the final split, Weibrecht simply could not sustain that last little bit of speed. “Luckily,” Jansrud said, “my last split was good enough.”
At the Olympics, there is sometimes way too much emphasis on first place. For Andrew Weibrecht, and the U.S. Ski Team, second was plenty good enough.
“It’s unbelievable,” Weibrecht said, adding, “I knew i had skied well. I knew I had a good run. I came through the finish. I just sort of appreciated my run, and then I took a couple seconds and looked at the time. I saw ‘2.’
“I looked away. I looked again. I thought, ‘You have got to be kidding. It has been a rough couple years with all the injuries and everything else.
“This,” he said, “makes up for it.”
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