Bode Miller shares Olympic moment with teammate
February 19, 2014
Most of the world got to know Bode Miller 12 years ago at Snowbasin. His one-ski balancing act to avert a near-catastrophic crash taught us to never count him out. He went on to win silver in the combined. Throughout a career filled with medals and World Cup crystal globes, Bode has never failed to entertain. And his bronze medal in super G at Sochi behind teammate Andrew Weibrecht further solidified his place in history as one of the greatest ski racers of all time.
Miller’s bronze was his sixth Olympic medal, putting him second among alpine skiers behind the remarkable Norwegian Kjetil Andre Aamodt with eight, and second among American Winter Olympians, trailing speed skater Apolo Anton Ohno, also with eight. It marked the third (out of five) Olympics where he medaled.
But what made him most proud was the fact that he did in together with friend and teammate Andrew Weibrecht. In fact, he helped script the story with his course report to Weibrecht.
Miller’s run wasn’t flawless. He lost time on the bottom. And he knew his lead wouldn’t hold. Norway’s Kjetil Jansrud bumped Miller into second. Canadian Jan Hudec then tied him.
But while the celebrations in the finish were beginning to accelerate, knowledgeable eyes were still on start position number 29 Andrew "Warhorse" Weibrecht. True, Weibrecht hadn’t had a result since winning bronze in the event in Vancouver. Fact is, though, he didn’t have any results coming into that event either. "He’s the fastest skier on the course for 20 seconds," joked Ted Ligety. But the U.S. Ski Team knew that Weibrecht had it to give.
Right out of the start you could tell. "Look out, Warhorse is bringin’ it," said Miller, turning to leader Kjetil Jansrud. "You know, he could win this." First intermediate: big lead for Weibrecht. Second split: still green. He was having a run like he hadn’t seen since Whistler four years ago when he took that bronze behind Miller’s silver.
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You have to wonder, how can you do that? When you watch Andrew Weibrecht on the training floor of the Center of Excellence working hour after hour, day after day you get a sense of his work ethic. Still, two 10th place World Cups is all his bio shows outside of that magical day in 2010.
Even Weibrecht has questioned himself. "There have been times I’ve had to evaluate whether this is really what I want to do, even as recently as yesterday," he said that night in Sochi. "I came down and 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 I took a couple seconds and looked at the time. I saw second, looked away and then I looked again and I saw it and was like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me!’"
All of a sudden all those squats, those hours on the bike, the sweat, the tears, the perpetual rehab from four surgeries in four years it all came together. "This is probably the most emotional day of ski racing that I’ve ever had. All the issues and troubles that I’ve had, to come and be able to have a really strong result like this, it reminds me that all the work I did to come back from the injuries and just dealing through all the hard times, that it’s all worth it and it all makes sense."
In his hometown of Lake Placid, employees of his parents’ hotel foot-stomped a huge WARHORSE in 20-foot-high letters in the snow on Mirror Lake. Along the shore at The Cottage, the party went well into the night.
For fans of the U.S. Ski Team, this was one of those days you dream about. It validated Andrew Weibrecht as one of America’s greatest big-event skiers. And it put a highlight on the already legendary career of Bode Miller.
"I’ve never been stuck on counting medals," said Miller. "But for me, I’ve put in a lot of work. This was a really hard year with a lot of effort coming back to get fit and get ready and just battle through everything life throws at you. Some days medals don’t matter. But today was one of the ones where it does matter."