Weibrecht, Goldberg fill in for Miller in downhill
BEAVER CREEK — Up until Friday’s downhill, Andrew Weibrecht, who had a top-10 finish in Saturday’s race, wasn’t even sure if he’d be in the starting gate for the 2015 FIS Alpine World Ski Championships men’s downhill.
Bode Miller, who is out for the season with a major injury after crashing in Thursday’s super-G, left a spot open on the men’s speed team that coaches were not sure how they would fill. Each country can enter four athletes in each discipline, and with both Travis Ganong and Steven Nyman qualified, two spots remained open.
“We had three guys for two spots after Bode went out,” said Weibrecht, who has two Olympics super-G medals. “Steven and Travis were qualified, and then it was a little bit up in the air who would take the other two spots between Jared (Goldberg), Marco (Sullivan) and myself. In the end, they chose me and Jared for the remaining two spots.”
Advice from Bode
The “War Horse,” as Weibrecht is nicknamed, did not disappoint coaches and fans, skiing into a ninth-place finish, tying with Switzerland’s Carlo Janka. It was a successful day for the Americans, with teammates Travis Ganong in second, Steven Nyman in fourth and Goldberg in 20th.
Weibrecht’s run had crowds on their feet as he attacked the course in his signature style, looking like he was in line for a top-five finish until a small mistake near the Harrier jump cost him.
“I knew I made a mistake at the bottom — just off Harrier, I flew off the pitch and wasn’t able to keep the speed up the last couple turns,” he said.
Even with Miller out, Weibrecht said the veteran downhiller imparted some words of wisdom on the other racers.
“I really like to talk to Bode about the approach,” Weibrecht said. “He likes to take it pretty aggressive, and so do I. (Before the second training), we talked about the entrance to the pitch at that Talon Turn area. The tactic I’ve been taking there has been working pretty well, and that came straight from him.”
Meanwhile Goldberg, a 23-year-old from Utah, has been moving upwards in the U.S. Ski Team ranks, getting his start in World Cups in 2012. Last year, he visited a lot more of the circuit, with results that snagged him a spot on the Sochi, Russia, Olympic Team in 2014.
He said he was confident he had a spot in Saturday’s downhill after posting fast training runs earlier in the week.
“I was kind of on the cusp, but I’ve been proving myself and scoring in the last few World Cups and showing a lot of speed, so there was no doubt in my mind that I’d be here today,” Goldberg said after his downhill run.
He was the first on the start list on Saturday, an experience he said reminded him of his days forerunning at Beaver Creek as a younger skier.
“It was awesome today,” he said. “It was like glass, like you were out surfing. It was all smooth, and I felt like I could easily make a correction if needed.”
Weibrecht said that the team’s strong showing despite Miller’s absence proves that the speed team is having a strong season.
“Obviously, we miss Bode, but we’ve had two guys win (on the World Cup), multiple guys in the top five and multiple guys in the top 10,” he said. “Despite losing Bode and not having him ski all year, we’ve still got a really solid team. We have some guys who have a couple good years left in them, for sure.”
Assistant Managing Editor Melanie Wong can be reached at 970-748-2927 and at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @mwongvail.
Rita’s two closest peers have climbed the 8,850-meter (29,035-foot) peak 21 times each, but both of them have retired from mountain climbing.