Stunning run gives Weibrecht silver
February 18, 2014
KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — Facing injury after injury over the past four years, Andrew Weibrecht had asked himself repeatedly whether he should continue ski racing.
“Even as recently as yesterday,” Weibrecht said.
Casting doubts aside and channeling the energy and emotion of the Olympics, Weibrecht skied a brilliant run in the super-G Sunday, winning the silver medal at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center.
On a deteriorating course, running No. 29, well after the other top performers, Weibrecht stunned the crowd to take his second career Olympic medal. He won a bronze in the super-G in 2010.
He has not achieved a top 10 result since 2011, and has undergone four surgeries over the past four years.
“This is probably the most emotional day of ski racing I’ve ever had,” Weibrecht said. “All the issues and troubles I’ve had, to come and be able to have a really strong result like this, it reminds me that all the work that I did to come back from the injuries and dealing through all the hard times, that it’s all worth it.”
Bode Miller won bronze, his sixth Olympic medal. He now ranks second all-time in most medals won at the Winter Olympics, tied with speed skater Bonnie Blair and trailing only speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno.
He also becomes the oldest man to win a medal in alpine skiing history, and the second winningest alpine skier ever, trailing only Kjetil Andre Aamodt.
“I’ve never been so stuck on counting them,” Miller said. “For me, I’ve put in a lot of work and this is really hard year, a lot of effort coming back to get fit and get ready, and just battle through.”
Kjetil Jansrud, of Norway, won gold with a time of one minute, 18.14 seconds. Weibrecht was three-tenths back.
Miller tied Jan Hudec, of Canada, for third, sitting 0.53 seconds behind Jansrud.
The American speed skiers quieted doubts about their performance so far in these games, which had seen just one bronze, won by Julia Mancuso in the super combined.
“I expected the guys to throw down today,” said coach Sasha Rearick. “All I asked them to do was go hard and earn it. … Andrew put it all together by just going for it. Amazing skiing.”
Weibrecht hurt himself on the very first race after Vancouver in 2010. He’s suffered a torn rotator cuff and labrum in his right shoulder, torn ligaments in his left ankle, a torn labrum in his left shoulder, and torn ligaments in his right ankle.
He was demoted from U.S. Ski Team’s “A” team to the “B” team, which meant he wasn’t fully funded. His spot on the Olympic team was not assured in the lead-up to the games.
“There’s only so many times you can get kicked before you start to really feel it,” Weibrecht said. “I try not to focus on results, but I really needed a result to remind me more than anything that I’m capable of this and I belong here.”
Weibrecht, 28, grew up in Lake Placid, N.Y., home of the 1980 Winter Olympics, where his parents own the Mirror Lake Inn.
“There was never a question that he could do it,” said his brother Jonathan. “It’s just having the right day.”