Two Americans Win Medals In Mens Super-G
RACHEL MARTIN, HOST:
This is WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. I'm Rachel Martin. Athletes prepare for years to compete in the Olympics, and then in mere moments on the ice or the snow it's all over. For American speedskaters, it has been a terrible Olympics, while U.S. men's alpine skiers just turned around a medals drought. We're joined now by NPR's Tamara Keith who's been following all the action in Sochi. Hi, Tamara.
TAMARA KEITH, BYLINE: Hey, Rachel.
MARTIN: OK. Let's start with the skiers. Two Americans got medals today in the Super-G, and these wins were each remarkable in different ways, right, Tamara? What happened?
KEITH: So, Bode Miller won the bronze. He's 36 years old, which makes him the oldest person ever to win a medal in Alpine skiing at the Olympics. It makes him one of the most decorated American winter Olympians, winning in three different Olympics. And he's coming back from an injury. He lost his brother over the last year and had two mediocre performances earlier in these Games. And so he said at a press conference afterwards that all of the emotions just sort of came back to him in the end.
BODE MILLER: The way it was definitely was a fight, was a struggle. So, in a way, you know, that is a little bit of the special type of achievement.
KEITH: The other things that's special about this is that he won this bronze medal in a tie, an exact tie, after a mile racing downhill.
MARTIN: That's amazing. OK. Another American, Andrew Weibrecht, he won the silver. He is not a household name and wasn't expected to win. How did he make it happen?
KEITH: He had the best minute and 40 seconds of his career at just the right moment. He is not a decorated skier. He basically has done terrible in international competition, except at the Olympics. So, he won silver this time. He won bronze in Vancouver - both times completely surprising the entire ski world.
MARTIN: A man who knows how to perform under pressure. OK. So, heading into these Olympics, there were very high expectations for American speedskaters, and a whole lot of attention on the new racing suit from Under Armor that was supposed to be a game changer. It kind of was, but not in a good way. What are skaters and/or coaches saying about the suit?
KEITH: Well, it was causing them enough concern that they actually swapped out the super-fancy new suit for one of their older suits last night. It didn't really help and so they're saying that the jury is still really out on these suits. But one thing is certain: all of the focus on it really got into their heads and messed with their confidence, though the U.S. Speed Skating Association put out a statement saying they're still confident in the suits and they are evaluating all aspects of race preparation.
MARTIN: All right. So, another group of skaters coming into these Games with high expectations are the ice dancing duo on the U.S. team, Meryl Davis and Charlie White. They are competing today in the short program. What can we expect?
KEITH: Well, you can expect Charlie's blond mop of curly hair to fling all over the place and be completely awesome. They are a lot of fun to watch, and they have expectations that they could ultimately win gold here, though Charlie White says that they're not thinking about that.
CHARLIE WHITE: We're not preparing every day to win a gold medal but to do something that we're really proud of one the ice and can remember forever.
MARTIN: They are so earnest.
KEITH: I know. And you really want to believe that they mean it. And, you know, this pair, they've been working together since they were 10 years old. They say that they feel like they have been working so hard at this for so long that they don't mind all the pressure of the gold medal expectations because they're ready for it.
MARTIN: The intrepid Tamara Keith in Sochi, Russia. Thanks so much for talking with us, Tamara.
KEITH: I'm so glad to be with you.