Andrew Weibrecht, 24, from Lake Placid, N.Y., finished 18 places behind U.S. bronze medalist Bode Miller, but he's considered the likely next star of American men's alpine skiing.
WHISTLER, B.C. — Today belongs to Bode Miller, who won Olympic bronze for the U.S. team in the men’s downhill at Whistler Creekside on Monday.
Tomorrow belongs to a guy who finished 18 places behind him.
Meet Andrew Weibrecht, 24, the future of U.S. men’s skiing.
That’s what teammates and coaches are saying about Weibrecht, who finished a disappointing 21st, 1.43 seconds behind winner Didier Defago of Switzerland.
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That is small consolation for Weibrecht, who suffered from low light and high expectations. He placed third among Americans, behind Miller and Steve Nyman, who was 20th.
“I was getting bounced all over the place, pretty tired by the end. I hoped to have a better run,” Weibrecht said. “I didn’t feel as though I was on it from the start. I was pretty jittery and nervous. I felt that I had the ability to be in there, but I didn’t ski my best. The light conditions were pretty tough when I went. So those two things together, I think.”
Weibrecht, from Lake Placid, N.Y., was 10th in two training sessions this week. He has emerged as one of the U.S.’s top speed skiers in just his third full-time season on the World Cup tour, and ranks No. 18 in the world in the super-G.
Weibrecht, in his first Olympics, did not sleep well the night before.
“I kind of feel for Andrew, coming in here and having a lot expected of him within our team,” said three-time Olympian Marco Sullivan, 29, Weibrecht’s roommate this week.
“I don’t think the media has really picked up on how good he really is. He’s going to be a star. He is a great skier. Our coaches know that and we know that. I think he expects a lot of himself.”
At 5 feet 6, 180 pounds, Weibrecht is one of the shortest skiers on tour but one of its best turners. He grew up in Lake Placid, N.Y., skiing the relatively steep, hard-snow terrain of Whiteface Mountain.
His World Cup breakthrough came in 2007, when he debuted with a 10th place on a wild downhill ride in Beaver Creek, Colo.
“That was him hanging it out there,” said Sasha Rearick, U.S. men’s coach. “Following that race, he went in the red room (medical clinic) on every single downhill. His goal was not to crash in training runs any more. He’s achieved that goal. The coaching staff has worked with him to teach him to take that aggression and ski a safe line.”
Expectations are still high for Weibrecht in these Games.
He’ll have a couple more chances to show the world what he can do. He’s entered in Tuesday’s super-combined and Friday’s super-G.
On Monday, Weibrecht sounded both regretful and relieved to get the nerves out of the way.
“I think that (it) kind of takes one race to knock that out,” he said. “I feel better now, and angry. So I think that’ll help overcome it.”
Tomorrow, and a bright future, beckons.