KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia - They call him the warhorse. They call him the wombat. One reporter in the press room of the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center called him "a bowling ball rolling down the hill."
Whatever you want to call him, Andrew Weibrecht knows how to win Olympic medals.
He's done it twice in four years, and although he's never seen the World Cup podium any other time, his teammates and coaches say they're not surprised by his silver-medal winning performance in today's Olympic super-giant slalom.
Andrew Weibrecht of Lake Placid smiles during a press conference at the Rosa Khutor Alpine Center after winning a silver medal in men's super giant slalom.
(Photo - Chris Knight)
U.S. racer Travis Ganong, who took 23rd in the super-G, said Weibrecht has only one gear.
"It's just full-on attacking, pushing as hard as he can every second of the run," Ganong said. "He pushes so hard every day in training and racing. It hasn't worked out for him in the last four years since the Olympics, but it doesn't matter anymore. Today it worked out, and he crushed it."
"I've skied with Andrew a lot of times, and he's so much better than his results show on the World Cup," said Bode Miller, who took bronze in the race. "He's just an unbelievable talent."
Miller, who was tied in the silver-medal position with Canadian Jan Hudec until Weibrecht raced, said he knew Weibrecht was going to do something special.
"When Andrew was in the gate, I said, 'There's a good chance he wins the race right now.' (Norway's Kjetil) Jansrud (who won the gold medal) was like, 'You're not even kidding?' I wasn't kidding. Then he came out and skied (strong) on the top and was almost four-tenths (of a second) up. We were all like, 'It's only Andrew that can do that stuff.'"
"That was wild. I'm really happy for Weibrecht," said Canadian ski racer Erik Guay, who missed a gate and was disqualified from today's race. "I actually thought he was going to have the win, watching the way he skied on the top. He really skied as good as anybody. They always talk about big-day skiers, but that's another extreme, I would say."
Weibrecht's reputation for hard-charging skiing earned him the nickname "Warhorse." Head U.S. alpine coach Sasha Rearick said after Sunday's race that he's got another name for Weibrecht, "the Wombat."
It all goes back to Weibrecht's hair-raising descent of the Birds of Prey downhill run at Beaver Creek, Colo. during a 2007 World Cup race.
"There was a coach from another team that said he's built like a wombat," Rearick said. "I haven't seen the wombat out of the cage in a long time" - until today. "All I was screaming today was, 'Let the wombat out of the cage! Come on dude. Go!'"
"He's got mad skills that he learned growing up at Whiteface," Rearick added. "When he just goes and doesn't think about anything else, that's when it comes out. He's an extremely hard worker. He does every workout, every dry-land session, more runs than the other guys, and puts the effort in every single day."
On Twitter, countless people sent Weibrecht congratulatory messages Sunday.
"Yes @a_weibrecht so psyched for you," tweeted U.S. ski jumper Lindsey Van.
"@a_weibrecht is my hero!" tweeted Vermontville native and 2010 Olympic gold medalist Billy Demong.
Even Gov. Andrew Cuomo was singing the praises of the Lake Placid native.
"Congrats @a_weibrecht of Lake Placid for winning silver in the super-G skiing event!" he tweeted.
In Lake Placid, Weibrecht's parents, Ed and Lisa Weibrecht, stayed up late to watch the race, which started at 1 a.m. Eastern time. USA Luge press officer Sandy Caligiore, who lives in Lake Placid, called them from the finish line and put them on speakerphone for the gaggle of reporters who were waiting to talk to their son.
"I had tears in my eyes," Ed Weibrecht said. "I guess he's finally healthy after these last three or four years. He had some difficult equipment problems for a while. It looks like he's strong and healthy."
"I just talked to Andrew, and he sounds over the moon," said Lisa Weibrecht. "I think he's in shock. He said, 'I can't quite put my arms around it yet.' I think he's pretty excited."
The Weibrechts own the Mirror Lake Inn and the Cottage Cafe in Lake Placid. A congratulatory toast for Andrew Weibrecht took place at the Cottage at 5 p.m. today.