Casey Andringa goes big, but comes up just short
BOKWANG PHOENIX PARK, South Korea — Casey Andringa didn’t even make the U.S. Ski and Snowboard national moguls team last spring.
Nine months later, the Ski and Snowboard Club Vail skier finished fifth in the Olympics — the best result of any American.
In between, he lived in a camper called “the Viking” with his brother, Jesse, moving from Whistler to Mount Hood to Steamboat, intensely focusing on becoming a better moguls skier — training, eating well and going to sleep early.
“There were a jillion steps between there and this point right here,” he said in the finish area Monday after the nighttime competition. “And it just all went perfectly to get me to this point.”
He had to perform well at the Team Selection event in December. He won both races, earning a spot at World Cup events in Calgary and Deer Valley.
He had to place highly in Calgary and Deer Valley. He finished seventh and fifth against the best moguls skiers in the world.
Those results gave him a spot on the four-man U.S. men’s Olympic moguls team.
“So many things had to align and he had to ski his best every single comp,” said Jesse Andringa. “It was such a long shot that (the Olympics) was in the back of our heads. But that’s kind of what drove us every day, and the thought that Casey would make the Olympics kind of pushed us to work out harder than we’ve ever worked out and trained harder than we ever trained.”
On Tuesday, Andringa, 22, who lives and trains in Vail in the winter, had to still qualify for the finals of the men’s moguls event. He did, finishing with the best score in the qualification round.
He advanced through the first final, then the second final. In the third final, he was among six men vying for an Olympic medal.
In a bold bid for Olympic gold, he decided to add more difficulty to his bottom air, attempting a cork 10 with a truck driver grab. But he didn’t quite stick the landing.
“It was definitely the hardest run I’ve ever thrown and I knew that it was going to take that,” he said. “I’d rather go for it, go for broke and miss it, than just kind of lay up and be sitting in fourth because I had more to give.”
Andringa’s Ski and Snowboard Club Vail coach Riley Campbell was in the crowd providing support. He said it’s very unusual for a moguls skier to add in difficulty to their normal air package in the middle of a competition.
“It was a gamble,” Campbell said. “I think if you find yourself in the super final at the Olympics, you ski for gold.”
Andringa had landed the trick in training, but he had never done it in a competition.
“That’s not really something you do,” Andringa said. “Most people train their tricks a lot. But I knew that if I wanted to get on the podium I was going to have to land that trick right there. And so I said, ‘Screw it, I’m going to go for it.’ And, you know, I gave it my 100 percent because there there was nothing more for me to do out there.”
Despite his whirlwind of success over the past few months, Andringa says he won’t be leaving his camper days behind.
“The best the most fun time I’ve ever had my whole life was those two months, three months living in a camper, hanging out with friends, just keeping it simple,” he said. “And so I guess every opportunity that I get like that, I’m going to take that over whatever else there is.”
It would be really hard to spark a wildfire anywhere near Vail Mountain or Beaver Creek right now. Still, unattended campfires will always draw attention.