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Andrew Weibrecht, unlikely Olympic medalist, retires from Alpine skiing

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Andrew Weibrecht, a speed racer who came from nowhere to earn an Olympic medal in 2010 and 2014, has retired from Alpine skiing, according to U.S. Ski & Snowboard.

“There comes a time in every young man’s life that he decides it’s time to retire and move on,” was posted on Weibrecht’s social media Tuesday.

Weibrecht, a 32-year-old who grew up in Lake Placid where his parents own Mirror Lake Inn, earned back-to-back Olympic super-G medals — bronze in Vancouver and silver in Sochi.

Before both of those podiums, his best result on the World Cup tour was 10th.

Weibrecht was nine days on from his 24th birthday when he joined World Cup overall title-winners Aksel Lund Svindal and Bode Miller on the super-G medal stand in Vancouver (and then Miller, Lindsey Vonn and Julia Mancuso on a Sports Illustrated cover). Weibrecht skied third, then watched as skiers far more accomplished than he could not knock him off the podium.

“It was definitely, by far, the most exciting ski race I’ve ever watched,” Weibrecht joked that day. “If you don’t watch ski racing, you might miss my name.”

Weibrecht wasn’t able to turn that bronze medal into World Cup success, but he came back from being demoted to the U.S.’ B team, paying some of his own travel expenses, to make a second Olympics in Sochi after considering retirement.

In the 2014 Olympic super-G, the man nicknamed War Horse charged from bib No. 29, several spots after the medal favorites. He skied faster than everyone save Norwegian Kjetil Jansrud.

“This is probably the most emotional day of ski racing that I’ve ever had,” Weibrecht said in Krasnaya Polyana, Russia, referencing not only the demotion but also injuries, including a concussion and ankle and shoulder surgeries, he suffered between Olympics. “I really needed a result to remind me that I’m capable of this and that I belong here.”

Weibrecht finally started bagging World Cup results after Sochi. In 2015, he finished fifth on four occasions and made his first podiums in the 2015-16 season.

Then the struggles came along with knee problems. His best World Cup finish the last two seasons was 12th. Weibrecht ended his Olympic career by skiing out of the PyeongChang super-G.

“Just skied too straight off a jump,” Weibrecht said in South Korea, according to the Washington Post. “That’s ski racing.”

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Ski jumping World Cup season kicks off in Poland

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The World Cup ski jump season opens Friday with men’s team and individual events in Wisla, Poland.

The host country had three of the top five jumpers in the overall standings last year. Defending champion Kamil Stoch placed third, Piotr Zyla was close behind in fourth, and Dawid Kubacki was fifth.

Japan’s Ryoyu Kobayashi dominated last year’s competition, finishing with 2,085 points to 1,349 for runner-up Stefan Kraft of Austria, the 2017 World Cup champion.

Kobayashi’s performance was a dramatic improvement over his previous season, when he finished no higher than sixth in any individual competition and was 24th overall. Last year, he had 15 wins and 23 podium finishes in 30 World Cup events, though he only managed fourth and 14th in the two world championship events.

The top American last season, Kevin Bickner, finished 51st overall, a drop from 39th the year before. He was 18th and 20th in the 2018 Olympic jumps.

Women’s World Cup action begins Dec. 6-8 in Lillehammer, Norway.

NBC Sports Gold will broadcast World Cup action throughout the season. This weekend, the qualifying jumps will air at noon ET Friday, the team event starts at 11:30 a.m. ET Saturday, and the individual competition is at 6 a.m. Sunday.

MORE: Full ski jumping broadcast schedule

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Snowboarding pioneer Jake Burton Carpenter dies at 65

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Jake Burton Carpenter, the pioneer who brought snowboarding to the masses and helped turn the sport into a billion-dollar business and Olympic showpiece, has died at 65.

He died Wednesday night in Burlington, Vermont, according to an email sent to the staff of the company he founded. Carpenter had emailed his staff this month saying, “You will not believe this, but my cancer has come back.” He had been diagnosed with testicular cancer in 2011 but after several months of therapy had been given a clean bill of health.

Carpenter quit his job in New York in 1977 to form the company now known simply as Burton. His goal was to advance the rudimentary snowboard, then called a “Snurfer,” which had been invented by Sherman Poppen a dozen years earlier.

It worked, and more than four decades later, snowboarding is a major fixture at the Winter Games and snowboards are as common as skis at resorts across the globe.

“He was our founder, the soul of snowboarding, the one who gave us the sport we all love so much,” Burton co-CEO John Lacy said in his email to the staff.

It is virtually impossible to avoid the name “Burton” once the snow starts falling at any given mountain around the world these days. The name is plastered on the bottoms of snowboards, embroidered on jackets, stenciled into bindings.

At a bar in Pyeongchang, South Korea, not far from where snowboarding celebrated its 20th anniversary at the Olympics last year, there was a wall filled with Burton pictures and memorabilia — as sure a sign as any of the global reach of a company founded in his garage in Londonderry, Vermont.

The company sponsored pretty much every top rider at one time or another — from Shaun White to Kelly Clark to Chloe Kim.

Carpenter watched all his champions win their Olympic golds from near the finish line, never afraid to grind away in the mosh pit of snowboarders and snowboarding fans that he helped create.

In an interview in 2010, he said he was happy with how far his sport had come, and comfortable with where it was going.

“I had a vision there was a sport there, that it was more than just a sledding thing, which is all it was then,” Burton said. “We’re doing something that’s going to last here. It’s not like just hitting the lottery one day.”

Lacy said details about the celebration of Burton’s life would be coming soon but, for now, “I’d encourage everyone to do what Jake would be doing tomorrow, and that’s riding. It’s opening day at Stowe, so consider taking some turns together, in celebration of Jake.”

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