Andrew Weibrecht

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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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U.S. ski racers produce nude calendar to raise money

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VAL D’ISERE, France (AP) — A group of American skiers are taking it all off in an effort to raise some money.

Five female and six male ski racers have joined together to pose in a nude calendar they hope will help them overcome high costs — and scarce funding — on the professional ski tour.

Called “Under the Suit: The Bodies of the Ski Team,” the calendar features the skiers in naked action shots: Either on the slopes or mountain biking in Chile and New Zealand, or pumping iron at their local gym in Park City, Utah.

Skiers below “A” team level pay their own travel costs, ranging from $15,000 to $35,000 each season. The original idea for calendar came from Brennan Rubie, who is racing at “C” team level.

“It’s tough for us because we have to raise a bunch of cash,” the 25-year-old Rubie told The Associated Press. “We’ve all reached out to our parents, our parents’ friends.”

Athletes should get up to $4,000 each from sales, which Rubie says is “a big chunk of money that can really take some stress off.”

Jacqueline Wiles, a member of the “B” team who is also unfunded, features on the calendar taking off into the air — naked except for a ski helmet, gloves and boots. Teammates Breezy Johnson and Alice McKennis are also in the calendar.

“I think the target is raising around $110,000,” Wiles told the AP recently at the French resort of Val d’Isere. “They want to get all the calendars out before Christmas … to be a stocking stuffer.”

Even though they are funded, two-time Olympic champion Ted Ligety and Olympic super-G silver medalist Andrew Weibrecht have helped out.

“It’s cool to see everyone come together,” Weibrecht said.

Wiles and McKennis are a long way from enjoying the success of four-time overall World Cup winner Lindsey Vonn and Olympic slalom champion Mikaela Shiffrin — who have won 99 World Cup races between them.

The 27-year-old McKennis won a downhill in the Austrian resort of St. Anton in January 2013 — her only podium — and Wiles has one top-10 finish.

Many are struggling behind them.

“Athletes are being more and more unfunded, having to find our own means. So this summer we tried to be creative,” Wiles said. “The men’s team did a bunch (of photos) in Norway. We did some in Chile, New Zealand — and in the gym in Park City.”

Aside from raising money, Wiles said the photos showcase athlete’s bodies in a “tasteful and strong” way. She has received positive feedback from mothers with concerns over anorexia, fearful that their daughters feel pressured to follow very slim role models.

“I think everyone really likes the idea of displaying our bodies in a very athletic, powerful position,” Wiles said. “We work hard to be physically fit for our sport, and I think it’s really cool to show our fans and family what our bodies go through.”

One of the most sensitive issues when doing the photos was passers-by.

“In New Zealand, we did it at a ski resort and there were other people hiking a different ridge. They could see me,” McKennis said. “When Jacqui (Wiles) and I went off the downhill jump in Portillo (Chile), there were definitely a few creepy spectators. One of our coaches, helping drive us in a snowmobile, actually stopped and yelled at them.”

While not opposing the calendar, the U.S. ski federation has been “very hands off with the whole project,” McKennis said.

“Just because it is something that they saw as something risky, that athletes are showing their naked bodies to the public,” McKennis said. “They were just like ‘We don’t want to be involved. If you’re going to do this, you need to do it separately.'”

Putting the calendar together ate into what little spare time the competitive skiers have.

“We’re racing, we’re training. It’s hard to be as proactive as we want to be with it,” McKennis said. “Evenings, whenever we can, we just try and fit it in. It can be really challenging.”

MORE: Ted Ligety’s struggles compounded by another injury

Marcel Hirscher joined by Americans on Beaver Creek super-G podium

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Austrian Marcel Hirscher won his first World Cup super-G race, while the U.S. put two men on the podium in Ted Ligety and Andrew Weibrecht in Beaver Creek, Colo., on Saturday.

Hirscher, the four-time reigning World Cup overall champion, prevailed by .33 over Ligety. Weibrecht was .36 behind.

Pre-race favorite Norwegian Aksel Lund Svindal, seeking his fourth straight win on tour, placed 21st. Full results are here.

Hirscher is the reigning World Cup slalom and giant slalom champion and World champion in the super combined, but he had only one previous World Cup super-G podium before Saturday — a third place back in 2012.

“It is nearly the same technique as giant slalom,” Hirscher said on NBCSN of Saturday’s course, which had a lower start due to weather conditions, which included falling snow to benefit early bib numbers. Hirscher started fourth, while the pre-race favorites were 16th and later.

Ligety, too, is better in the giant slalom as the reigning Olympic and World champion. He did, though, win the 2013 World title in the super-G.

“It’s really the most technical super-G hill on the World Cup,” Ligety said. “You actually have to be really good at turning and have to have some of the gliding skills.”

Weibrecht is more of a speed racer. He’s a two-time Olympic super-G medalist and notched his first career World Cup podium in his 117th start Saturday.

“It’s just such a monkey off my back,” Weibrecht said. “I get the question all the time that you have two Olympic podiums, but you never had a podium in World Cup, who is that? I’m sick of dealing with that.”

On Friday, Weibrecht was fifth in the downhill, then matching his best World Cup finish.

“I like to joke sometimes that he’s the fastest guy in all four events,” Ligety said. “Even slalom sometimes he’s ridiculously fast. It’s no surprise when he gets on the podium, that’s for sure. It’s more of a surprise it hasn’t happened more often.”

Hirscher and Ligety will be favored in a Beaver Creek giant slalom Sunday, live on NBC and NBC Sports Live Extra at 5 p.m. ET.

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