KRASNAYA POLYANA, RUSSIA – Olympic-sized disappointments for the U.S. Alpine team? For one morning, forget about them.
Bode Miller earned the sixth medal of his increasingly storied Olympic career with a bronze in Sunday morning’s super-G, a storyline that would have helped buoy a flagging American team on its own. But out of nowhere came Andrew Weibrecht, whose only notable accomplishment to this point was a surprising bronze medal in this event four years ago in Vancouver.
Sunday, though, Weibrecht bested Miller, bouncing him down a spot and earning the silver medal behind winner Kjetil Jansrud of Norway.
Miller tied with Canada’s Jan Hudec for bronze, 0.53 of a second behind Jansrud’s winning time of 1 minute, 18.14 seconds. Weibrecht, who hasn’t placed in the top three of any World Cup race since his bronze four years ago in Vancouver, was 0.30 of a second behind Jansrud.
Given two mistake-filled races to this point, it was somewhat surprising to see Miller in the lead after he skied 13th. His advantage held up for eight racers, until Jansrud crushed the bottom part of the course to take a commanding lead.
With several of the top contenders gone – Norway’s Aksel Lund Svindal, the defending Olympic champion, and downhill gold medalist Matthias Mayer of Austria chief among them – Miller and Hudec seemed certain to tie for silver.
But Weibrecht, skiing 29th, surprised everyone at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center, beating Jansrud’s time at every split, then narrowly losing the advantage at the bottom. Still, it holds up as possibly the most surprising Alpine medal of the Sochi Games – and immeasurably helps the U.S. team.
Entering Sunday, with half of the 10 Alpine races already over, the Americans had one medal – Julia Mancuso’s bronze in the women’s super combined. Now, it has three, with the potential for more to come.
Miller, 36, became the oldest Alpine medalist in Olympic history. His six Olympic medals have been earned across three Olympics — two in 2002, three in 2010 and one here.