Under brilliant skies, Bode Miller and Andrew Weibrecht skied to a 2-3 finish for US Skiing at Whistler Creekside. Topped only by Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, the future of US skiing shone almost as brightly as the sun that finally came out during the race.
Miller, who has transformed a lifetime of reckless careening into masterful dominance, sent his skis chattering down a challenging super-G course that claimed more than a few racers – including Canadian favorite Manuel Osborne-Paradis. He soared around the blue and red gates, sending little ice balls fleeing for safety.
Known for trimming fat off the serpentine arcs of his competitors, today Miller was beat at his own game by Svindal, much to the delight of a crowd eager for tight competition. Using superimposed video imagery, TV screens at the venue showed Svindal cutting a tighter line than Miller – enabling him to edge the three-time Olympic medalist by 0.28 seconds.
But perhaps the bigger story of the day than Miller winning his second medal of these Games was rookie Weichbrecht’s unexpected performance. Never a top-10 finisher on the World Cup in this event, he set a blistering pace as the No. 3 starter that only two men could beat – although a small clump came within a few hundredths of a second.
Weibrecht, a native of two-time Olympic host Lake Placid, has steadily improved over the past year. Coaches have been particularly impressed by his work ethic since joining the US Skiing “A” team last year, according to the US Ski Team website.
"There isn't a guy on this team that's worked harder and made more progress because of that work than Andrew. At summer camps in New Zealand and Chile, this guy was making progress every day and he continued that through the World Cup season," the website says.
Miller was known at the 2006 Games in Torino more for his partying than his performance. But he has come back quieter and more focused. When Svindal laid down a faster time, he was clapping at the finish line.
He wasn’t the only one.
Follow Christa from early in the morning till late at night on Twitter. Christa trained full time for the Olympics as a cross-country skier between 1997 and 2002.